Turgot

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Anne Robert Jacques Turgot

Jonathan Sherman

Anne Robert Jacques Turgot was a philosopher and statesman, but he also laid much of the ground work for today’s modern economic thought. Born in Paris in 1727, Turgot was enrolled in a private school in Paris prior to attending Seminaire De Saint-Sulpice to prepare for priesthood. From his schooling Turgot received a Bachelor of Theology in 1747 from Seminaire De Saint-Sulpice. Turgot went on to hold several positions in municipal and provincial governments which would ultimately lead him to being Intendant of the Generalite of Limoges. While holding this position Turgot made several economic reforms. One of which was the removal of restrictions on trade of not only agricultural products but also financial transactions. While Turgot refused to be associated with physiocrats, he derived some of his theories in economics from them. Turgot was also influence by Adam Smith as well as Quesnay and many of his writing challenged the true physiocratic principles. Today, many of Turgot’s principles are considered the building blocks for a successful capitalist society.

Free trade was one Turgots most prominent principles. Physiocrats regarded trade as unproductive. This rational was due to the idea that goods are exchanged for something of equal value and that there could be no new wealth created. Physiocrats did however support the idea on freedom to export grain as essential to growth of produit net, or in other words the net product. The export of grain during the time of Louis XVI however was restricted. Along with restrictions on exports, imported goods were also encouraged. This limited the quantity of goods a producer could sell and limited the price a good could be sold at. During Turgot’s time as Controller General of Finances for Louis XVI, Turgot attempt to reform the restrictions put on exports. However, his push for freedom of trade and other reforms was ended in May 1776, when Louis XVI removed...
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