James Tobin

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Definition of 'James Tobin'

James Tobin (1918-2002) was an American economist who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1981 for his work on financial markets. He is best known for his development of the Tobin tax, a proposal to tax international currency transactions in order to reduce volatility in the foreign exchange market.

Tobin was born in New York City and studied at Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in economics in 1947. He taught at Yale University from 1950 to 1961 and at Harvard University from 1961 to 1988. He was also a visiting professor at several other universities, including the University of Cambridge, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tobin's early work focused on macroeconomics and monetary theory. He developed a number of important concepts, including the Tobin effect, which describes the relationship between interest rates and the demand for money. He also made significant contributions to the theory of international trade and finance.

In the 1970s, Tobin became increasingly interested in the problems of financial instability. He argued that financial markets were inherently unstable and that government intervention was needed to prevent financial crises. He proposed the Tobin tax as a way to reduce volatility in the foreign exchange market and to discourage speculation.

The Tobin tax was not adopted by any government, but it remains a controversial proposal that is debated by economists and policymakers. Tobin's work on financial instability has also had a significant impact on the field of financial economics.

In addition to his academic work, Tobin was also active in public policy. He served as a consultant to the United States government on a number of occasions and he was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1961 to 1962. He was also a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Bretton Woods Committee.

Tobin was a highly influential economist who made significant contributions to a number of fields, including macroeconomics, monetary theory, international trade and finance, and financial instability. He was also a respected public figure who was active in public policy debates. His work continues to be studied and debated by economists and policymakers today.

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