Frederic Bastiat

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Definition: Frederic Bastiat

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French philosopher, economist and legislator. He is known for his writing in favour of free trade and economics. The theme of his writings was that the free market was on its own a source of economic harmony among individuals and government coercion shoud be limited to protecting lives, liberty and property of citizens.

He founded the Associations of Free Trade in 1846 and used its journal Le Libre-Exchange (free trade) to press on his views. Bastiat used satire and parables to explain the economic principles and outcomes. His most famous satirical writing is “The Candlemaker’s Petition” in which candlemakers asked for protection against the Sun as the Sun was their competitor and they would profit if the Sun was removed as a source of light. Even modern economists use it to promote free trade.

The slogan, "if goods don t cross borders, armies will," is often credited to Bastiat as he so powerfully made the case that free trade was maybe the best route to peace as well as prosperity. He understood that all through history, tariffs had been a main cause of war. Protectionism is an effort by governments to inflict on their own people in peacetime the same kinds of damage their enemies attempt during wars.

In 1850, with essay ‘What is seen and what is unseen’, he introduced the concept of opportunity cost, the term was later coined 50 years after his death.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Frederic Bastiat along with its overview.

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