Born January 5, 1767 in Lyon,Jean-Baptiste Saywas a French economist, best known for his law of markets, which posits that supply creates its own demand.
After completing your education,Saybriefly worked for an insurance company and later as a journalist. In 1794 he became editor of a new magazine dedicated to the ideas of the French Revolution; he later became editor-in-chief of the magazine. He was made a member of the Tribunate under the consulate in 1799, but was later fired by Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1807 he started a cotton spinning mill, which he sold in 1813. Later he held a chair of industrial economics at the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts from 1817 to 1830, and was professor of political economy at the Collège de France from 1830 until his death. . Its main publication wasTraité d’économie politique(1803; Treatise on political economy).
SayHe attributed the economic depression not to a general weakness in demand, but to temporary overproduction in some markets and underproduction in others. He believed that any imbalance would adjust automatically because the superproducers had to redirect their production to meet the preferences of their customers or they were forced to go out of business.
There are two versions of theSay’s law
: one turned out to be true and the other false. The true version states that an excess of goods cannot persist in the long run because the production of goods will motivate producers to buy other goods. In the words ofSay
, “Products are always exchanged for products
“This represented a significant new understanding of markets because economists prior toSay
they had worried about the possibility of a long-term glut. However, there is the false version of theSay’s law
, in whichSay
He also seems to have believed and to affirm that there cannot be an overproduction of goods in the short term. The British economistThomas Malthus
, with whomSay
was familiar, attacked this version in the nineteenth century, as didJohn Maynard Keynes
in the 20th century.
was the best known exhibitor of the opinions ofAdam smith
both in Europe and the United States. But he did not agree with Smith’s theory of value.Say
He was one of the first economists to realize that the value of a good is derived from its usefulness to the user, not from the labor used to produce it. This idea was not systematized until the early 1870s, when Carl Menger, William Stanley Jevons, and Friedrich von Wieser paid more attention to it.