Frederik Zeuthen


- a personal note by Karl Vind

Frederik Ludvig Bang Zeuthen (1888-1959) was a Danish economist, professor at the University of Copenhagen 1930-58. His father was professor of mathematics, famous for his book on the history of mathematics.

Zeuthen is known for contributions to several of the areas of economic theory which became active in the 30'ies. In his work on a theory of the labour market he realised that ''supply equal to demand'' could not determine the wage if two monopolies were negotiating. This is what he called economic warfare. lt is what is now called bargaining.

He is known as the first to replace equalities in the Walrasian system with inequalities, so in Zeuthen's formulation general equlibrium theory could explain not just the price of a commodity but also which commodities were free, i.e. having a zero price.

He is known for early contributions (with Hotelling, Chamberlin, Robinson, and von Stackelberg) to the theory of monopolistic competition

l was a student of economics in Copenhagen from 1951, and Zeuthen was one of the few economics professors whose lectures I followed. Technically he was not a good teacher, but the students who were interested could learn a lot. He was modest, open minded, and positive towards new deve-lopments. I remember talking with him about Arrow-Debreu (1954) with the first satisfactory existence theorem for a general equilibrium. Zeuthen, of course, appreciated that they referred to a paper of his from 1932, Das Prinzip der Knappheit, but he tried to explain that the idea came from one of his students.

He referred to the paper in his 1955 book, Economic Theo-ry and Method, but he stayed with the popular version of Walras from Cassel.

Zeuthen was not a student of any of the professors in Copenhagen. He found his own problems and he found his own solutions. Zeuthen did not have any students in Copenhagen, but his human qualities and his whole attitude had a very positive influence on the development in Copenhagen. He gave some students the courage to work with economic theory and to solve problems.

Frederik Zeuthen, 1888-1959. Selected Bibliography

Books in English

Economic Theory and Method, translated by Else Zeuthen. London: Longmans, 1955. Problems of Monopoly and Economic Warfare. London: Routledge, 1930.

Articles in English, French and German, chronological order

Undeterminierte Lohnprobleme. Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozial-politik, Bd 62, H.2, 1929, pp. 271-298.
Das Prinzip der Knappheit, technische Kombination und ökonomische Qualität. Zeitschrift for Nationalökonomie, Bd. IV, H. l, 1932, pp. 1-24.
Public Price Policy, in Economic Essays in Honour of Gustav Cassel, London: 1933, pp. 673-689.
Theoretical Remarks on Price Policy: Hotellings' Case with Variations. Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 47, 1933, pp. 231-253.
Einige Bemerkungen zur Preistheorie Gustav Cassels. Zeitschrift für National-ökonomie, Bd. 5, H.2, (1934), pp. 285-286.
Kosten und Wirkungen der Reklame in theoretischer Beleuchtung. Archiv for mathematische Wirtschafts- und Sozialforschung, Bd. l, H. 3, 1935, pp. 159-166.
Monopolistic Competition and the Homogeneity of the Market. Econometrica, vol. 4, no. 3, 1936, pp. 193-209.
On the Determinateness of the Utility Function.Review of Economic Studies, vol. 4, 1937, pp. 236-239.
Der wirtschaftliche Zusammenhang: ein Netz von Teilzusammenhängen. Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Bd. 58, H.2, 1943, pp. 175-205.
A Note about Capital Values. Metroeconomica, vol. l, 1949, pp. 53-56.
Recent Developments in Economics. Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 68, 1954, pp. 158- 180.
La theorie du monopole bilatéral et multilatéral toujours à l'ordre du jour. Économie Appliquée, vol. 8, no. 3-4, 1955, pp. 331-334.
Note sur le développement de la théorie de l'oligopole après vingt-cinq ans. Économie Appliquée, vol. 8, no. 3-4, 1955, pp. 327-330.
Input-Output Analysis: The Entrance to Efficient Economics? Economia Internazionale, vol. 10, 1957, pp. 709-716.
Science and Welfare in Economic Policy. Quarteriy Journal of Economics, bd. 73, 1959, pp. 513-521.
On Economic Practice and Reaction to Public and Private Controls. Kjær-Hansen, Max (ed.): Readings in Danish Theory of Marketing, 1966, pp. 52-59.