Genivieve Steiner
Int. Macro Honors
Irving Fisher
When modern day students study economics, Irving Fisher’s theories are among the forefront of macroeconomic theory. Irving Fisher was one of the most influential and highly regarded classical economists of all time. Many consider Fisher a mathematical genius, and admire Fisher for his contributions to classical pre depression economics. Fisher had the intellect to apply his mathematics to economic theory, and thus became one of the earliest economists. Although he is highly esteemed and respected today as the pioneer of economics, His reputation wasn’t always of high regard from the public.
Irving Fisher: “The son of Yale”
Irving Fisher was born in 1867 in New York. Fisher was described as an eclectic and colorful person, always concerned about others. Many of Fisher’s childhood friends regarded him as being “insanely brilliant”. Irving Fisher’s family was described as “tight knit”, with Irving emulating and admiring his father’s work ethic and contributions to society as a hard worker. Fisher applied to the University of Yale under his father’s guidance, and was accepted into one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Sadly, a week after his acceptance to Yale University, his father suddenly passed away at the young age of 53 from Tuberculosis. Irving Fisher, now just a young boy, was left to support himself, his mother and brother on his own. He worked side jobs, and earned most of his income from tutoring other students. Fisher was devastated about the loss of his father, but pushed though an education at Yale, where he pursued interests in astronomy, philosophy, and geography. Fisher published many works concentrating on philosophy during his career at Yale. However, Fisher’s real passion lay with economics and mathematics. Although Yale did not offer degrees in Economics at the time of Fisher’s attendance, this did not stop him from pursuing economic studies. Fisher earned his degree in Science and Philosophy, publishing poetic works concerning both subjects. However, Fisher’s father had told him as a young boy that he must contribute to society, and this ideology stuck with him. Fisher was always concerned with public welfare, and began to realize that economics better fit his social agenda of helping others prosper. He continued to study on a doctoral level at Yale, and eventually became the first person ever to earn a PHD in economics from the University of Yale in 1891. After receiving his degree, Fisher remained at Yale, teaching mathematics as an assistant professor. Fisher was always concerned with his own agenda, and continued to research and develop theories which he sought to help improve the general wealth and prosperity of the country. He would later go on to become a renowned and respected professor at Yale University. Many coined Fisher the “son of Yale”, as he remained with the University throughout his career.

Life after a PHD
Fisher spent his career teaching at Yale, where he met the love of his life, Margaret Hazard, and was married in 1893. Hazard was described as a southern belle, coming from a very wealthy family. The couple was often described as being “madly in love”, and Fisher’s affection for his new bride was evident to everyone around them. Margaret’s wealth allowed Fisher to be able to travel to Europe, studying theories about a global economy. Upon Fisher’s return in 1895, Fisher was offered a full time teaching position at Yale University in the newly established economics department. Fisher was more than elated to make the switch as an assistant mathematics professor to a professor of economics; a subject where he viewed himself able to make a substantial impact on society.
The personal life of Irving Fisher; A story untold
Little is known about the personal life of Irving Fisher. He was always regarded as a private and noble gentleman that did not make his private life a public affair. Margret and Irving Fisher welcomed their first son in 1896, and Irving promised himself to be a good role model and father. Not long after, the Fisher family welcomed a baby girl, named Margret after her mother. However, tragedy struck in 1898, when Fisher developed an intense case of tuberculosis, the disease that killed his father. However, Fisher was determined not to let the disease take his life, as he had lost his own father at a young age and had struggled for many years to support himself and his family. It was this determination that began Irving’s interest in health. Irving Fisher, being a very intelligent and resourceful man, began intensely researching tuberculosis, and other diseases. This eventually led Fisher to an interest in health related topics. In 1901, after only a 3 year battle with Tuberculosis, Fisher conquered the disease. After such a close run in with fate, Fisher made a vow to get healthy and stay healthy for his family. Several years following, Fisher’s daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental illness which was essentially unknown at the time. Fisher advocated religiously a now ridiculed theory by Doctor Henry Cotton, called “Focal Sepsis”. This theory states that mental illness such as the one that plagued fisher’s daughter was from infectious material residing in the roots of the teeth and recesses of the bowls, as well as other places in the body. The treatment called for a removal of the bowl and/or colon. Fisher Believed in this theory so much, he had much of his daughter’s bowl and colon removed at the hands of Dr. Cotton, which eventually led to her death.
The works of Irving Fisher
During a span of about 45 years, Fisher published many works based on his agenda of public prosperity. After a near fatal battle with tuberculosis, Fisher gained much knowledge about public health, and wrote a book entailed How to Live; Rules for Healthful Living Based on Modern Science, which advocated a vegetation diet and rigorous exercise routines. This book would quickly become a best seller. Fisher proved his theory about diet correct, as he lived to be 80 years old.
Fisher’s Theories went beyond simply deep theoretical and robust explanations. In Fisher’s opinion, a theory must be operational, or it is useless. By this, Fisher used high level mathematics to develop and prove his theories, but delivered his theories in a clear and concise manner which the general public could understand. Many believe this is what set Fisher apart from other economics. Fisher’s two major works are The Purchasing Power of Money and the Theory of Interest. These famous works address issues such as capital, money, and interest rates and their relation to each other. Fisher advocated the importance of a stable and sound monetary policy. Fisher amongst multiple other economic theories and equations is also famously noted of his distinguishing between real and nominal interest rates. Fisher’s famous intellect and mathematical competencies can be demonstrated with his Equation of Exchange, which summarizes the relationship between money velocity, price, money supply, and GDP. This equation continues to lie at the forefront of solving macroeconomic disputes over policy and monetary systems. Fisher’s theories and Equations are all directly observable and measureable. Among his other notable works are: Fisher Equation, Fisher Hypothesis, Fisher Separation Theorem, and Mathematical Investigations into the Theory of Value and Pricing. Fisher is considered a neoclassical economist, with an emphasis on monetary economics. However, unlike conventional classical economists, Fisher did believe in a degree of money illusion. Fisher’s views can be summarized as a split between classical economics and monetary economics with a strong belief in the power of the money supply.
The fall of a genius
The saga of Irving Fisher is not solely a story of his many accomplishments and unfaltering success. Fisher’s reputation was seriously injured near the end of his career. As the economy started to spiral into a downfall in 1929, Fisher continued to remain optimistic about the looming fate of the country. As many economic indicators signaled for investors to get out of the stock market, Fisher continued to assure the public that the downturn in the economy was only minor and very temporary. With much success and respect from his followers, many people took his advice. Fisher is famously quotes as saying “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau”, just one week before Black Friday, the day of the stock market crash which kicked off the great depression. Fisher did what many economists warn against; he assured the public falsely and followed it with a prediction. After the stock market crash, Fisher’s respect and recognition of theories to follow were severely damaged, and many of his later economic works such as his debt-deflation theory were discredited in light of those theories emerging from economist John Keynes. Even After the Stock Market Crash, and years into the Great Depression, Fisher continued to assure the public that recovery was right around the corner.

Irving Fisher died April 29, 1947 in New Haven CT. at the age of 80 from cancer. At a Time when people seldom lived to be 55, Irving Fisher is a walking testimony of his works on health and exercise. Although his reputation was severely damaged during the great depression, Irving Fisher did something seldom economists at the time had the audacity to actually do: He put his theory where his mouth is. Fisher dedicated his entire life to economics, and although he didn’t get everything right, he always followed through with his convictions. Fisher is a jack of many traits. He was a literal genius, mastering high level math, economics, public and policy issues, and economics. Due to the discrediting of his theories after the depression, much of Fisher’s works were not fully appreciated until long after his death. An example of such works is his debt-deflation theory of 1931. The theory was revived in the early 1990’s is now commonly used in economic policy today. Fisher’s contributions to economics are undisputable, and most certainly irreplaceable. He died a man of many accomplishments, a true testimony to his father’s wishes for him to become a productive member of society.

Sources: MLA format

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Zeckhauser, Richard. "Irving Fisher, Victor Fuchs, and the." Harvard University, n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2010. <