Religion & Liberty Online

Meet Jacques Rueff, the French, free-market advocate

Free-market economists such as Wilhelm Röpke and Walter Eucken made much headway during the first half of the twentieth century, and to some, are household names. There is, however, another significant free-market advocate with whom most may be less familiar.

In a new piece from Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg introduces readers to economist Jacques Rueff. The Frenchman, who earned the titles Statesman of Finance and “l’anti-Keynes”, was the first economist elected to the Académie Française and continued to rise in both economics and politics. Gregg writes:

Rueff didn’t stop advocating his decidedly pro-market views when he assumed senior positions in the French finance ministry from 1934 onwards. To anyone who would listen, Rueff argued for balanced budgets, trade-liberalization, and ending price supports. Rueff also set himself against the public works programs, unemployment insurance, and forty-hour work-week implemented by Leon Blum’s Popular Front government.

Ultimately, Rueff championed markets for the sake of morality, a motivation at the core of the Acton Institute’s mission. “Economic decisions were, in his view, always premised upon moral and political choices…Most of the world and the laws of nature which gave it order, Rueff argued, was a matter of divine design. One sphere, Rueff believed, to which humans could bring order was the economy”.

Read Gregg’s whole article, “Jacques Rueff: Statesman of Finance and “l’anti-Keynes””.

Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a managing editor at the Acton Institute and produces Acton's weekly podcast, Acton Line.