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branch of economic thought, developed chiefly in Germany in the last half of the 19th century, that sought to understand the economic situation of a nation in the context of its total historical experience. Objecting to the deductively reasoned economic "laws" of classical economics, proponents of the historical approach favoured an inductive method that would encompass the continuing development of the entire social order; economic motives and decisions were seen as only one component of the social order. Members of both the earlier and the later historical schools viewed government intervention in the economy as a positive and necessary force