by Louis Rouanet
1) Michel Chevalier on the cumulative nature of innovation
Michel Chevalier (1806-1879) was one of the most brilliant of the French Classical School of Political Economy, rightly called by Dr. Joseph Salerno the “Bastiat’s school”. As a minister during the second empire, he led the negociations that resulted in the Cobden–Chevalier Free-Trade Treaty of 1860. Michel Chevalier is, however, less well-known for his contribution to the intellectual-property debate.1 In contrast to Jean-Baptiste Say, Gustave de Molinari, Charles Coquelin, and most other French economists. Michel Chevalier fiercely opposed the patent system on economic grounds. Furthermore, having been an engineer, Michel Chevalier had a broad knowledge of new technologies. Thus, he cited numerous empirical examples of inventions and technical problems with patents. For those who want to understand Chevalier’s ideas in greater detail, you can check my article on “Michel Chevalier’s Forgotten Case Against the Patent System”. If you read French, Michel Chevalier’s book was republished by the Institut Coppet and available for free on their website.