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William Harold Hutt Edit Profile

also known as William Harold "Bill"


William Harold "Bill" Hutt was an English economist who described himself as a classical liberal, although some identify him more closely with the Austrian School, economist in the field of History of Economic Thought; Labour Markets.


HUTT, William Harold was born in 1899 in London, England.


Hutt attended the London School of Economics (LSE) where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree under the "leading influence" of Edwin Cannan.

Bachelor of Commerce University London, 1924. Honorary Doctor of Laws University Cape Town, 1977. Honorary Dr Social Sciences, University Francisco Marroquin, Guatemale, 1979.

Honorary Dr Humane Letters, University Dallas, 1984.


Rather than wholly removing himself from academia upon the completion of his undergraduate degree, Hutt remained immersed in the LSE culture, attending LSE classes informally until March 1928, when he accepted a position as senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. In 1930, Hutt was promoted to "Chair of Commerce" at UCT. Later, Hutt would be named "Dean of the Faculty of Commerce."

In his writings on collective bargaining, including his first book, The Theory of Collective Bargaining (1930), Hutt disputed the commonly held position that labor was at a disadvantage in bargaining with employers, an idea which some had used to justify organized violence by trade unions. He also argued against the idea that the labor market consists of a "bilateral monopoly." Although Hutt argued vehemently against what he considered to be injustices committed by trade unions, he did not advocate their outright abolition. According to Australian writer Rafe Champion, Hutt believed that, [Unions] had (and have) many useful functions in addition to acting as friendly societies for health and welfare provision. They could help their members to improve their qualifications and locate the best paid work, and they could provide assistance to members subjected to unfair treatment by management.

Hutt later became known as a leading voice in the academic community condemning South African apartheid. He vehemently objected to the policy, arguing in his 1964 critique, The Economics of the Colour Bar, that it was little more than a means by which white labor unions used the government to outlaw black competition.

Senior Lector, Professor, University Cape Town, S. Africa, 1927-1965, 1966-1981. Visiting Professor, Universities Virginia, Rockford College, Wabash College, California State University, Hayward, Texas A&M University, University Dallas,


Visiting Research Fellow, Hoover Institute, Institution, Stanford, California, 1980-1981. Retired, freelance author.

He was a member of the Mont Pelerin Society and of the Philadelphia Society. Hutt's work has been notably praised by George Selgin and Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan.

In his 1936 book "Economists and the Public" he coined the now famous concept "consumer sovereignty".



classical liberal


After entering academic life, I decided early that the concept of ‘competition’ needed rigorous definition. I eventually offered the following: ‘Competition is the pro

cess of substituting a lower priced method of achieving any objective, material or non-material, including the production and marketing of any product’. Every economic society was, I perceived, co-ordinated through competition in this sense.

The productive services of assets and men are priced, and the magnitude of aggregate income and its distribution among the owners of assets, and among men (as workers or entrepreneurs), are determined through the pricing system. ‘Consumers’ sovereignty’, a term I believe I coined in the early 1930s, can, when unconstrained, be shown to secure the ideal composition of the flow of aggregate output. I eventually concluded that aggregate income is maximised and the degree of inequality in its distribution minimised when, in every pursuit, each person is offered and accepts the minimum necessary to attract and retain the services of his assets or of his labour.

The nonmarket determination of prices via the coercive power of special interest groups (e.g. labour unions) or via the State in the interest of such groups, always constrains the magnitude of society’s real income and renders the distribution of that income more unequal. Crucial to the problem of pricing is the role of the money unit. Very early in the 1930s I defended the gold standard or any other device under which society’s decision-makers can rely on a money unit of unchanging purchasing power.

I was accordingly led to a critical opposition to the notions of Lord Keynes several years before his famous exposition in The General Theory appeared in 1936.