Facts about Leon Walras

1. He twice failed the entrance exam at the Polytechnique in Paris because of his weak math skills.

2. He enrolled in a mining engineering school, wrote novels, and was an art critic for a while.

3. He was self-taught in economics.

4. Walras thought he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize, though he failed to win one.

That biographical information is from Cocktail Party Economics: The Big Ideas and Scintillating Small Talk about Markets, by Eveline J. Adomait and Richard G. Maranta.  I can imagine this book as a good supplement to an undergraduate economics class with a very good basic text; it is mostly basic analytics with scattered interesting features throughout the book.  Here is a short interview with one of the authors.


5. He has a funny name.

#4 Thinking you yourself deserve the Nobel count much?

Describing Walras as self-taught is somewhat deceptive; his father, Auguste Walras, was a published but non-professional economist of some sophistication and indeed, appears to have been very important in defining the direction of his son's research. Perhaps the more useful term for Walras would be "home-schooled"?

Right you are! The first line in the 'Gossip Column' on Walras goes as follows:..

The biggest influence in Leon Walras's life was his dad.

The Gossip Columns (found in every chapter) feature a famous economist and they are meant to give some interesting A&E information along with a (very) brief history of thought. Most people think economic ideas only came from Adam Smith or Keynes (who isn't featured in this book). I am saving him for a macroeconomics Cocktail Party Economics book.

Well, the "mining engineering school" is actually École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris, which is "a mining engineering school" about as much as George Mason University is a school for becoming George Mason. It has a pretty elite reputation nowadays.

Exactly, It is one of the finest engineering schools on Earth and it is not training engineers as much as those who direct them, as to weak math skills, that he could enroll in Mines Paris with "weak" math skills is a testament to how selective the Polytechnique was at that time, as le mines curriculum is so math intensive, and has been for more than a century at least, as to be almost impenetrable to most non French mining engineers. #2 is like saying that one failed to get into Stanford for Physics and had to settle for going to MIT.

Also in the 19th century Mining schools were some of the most technically advanced institutions in the world, at the very forefront of innovation.

6. His theory is absurd.

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