Investopedia explains that the origin of economic thought lies with a man named Adam Smith who was heavily influenced by French writers and philosophers. Smith developed the discipline of economics as an alternative to French mercantilism, which was an easily exploited system that benefited the wealthy at the expense of the common classes. Other important economic thinkers include Karl Marx, Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes.
According to Investopedia, the first work in economics was performed by French physiocrats who opposed mercantilism. While economic thought originated with this group, Smith refined the thought process and expanded it into a general economic thesis. From this point on, the discipline of economics was primarily focused on creating a better system for the world's economies rather than improving current financial systems.
Wikipedia explains that Smith's definition of economics focused on the "political economy," an inquiry into the wealth possessed by various nations and the means through which they acquired that wealth. Others have defined it as a science of production, distribution and consumption. Wikipedia also notes the cross-cultural nature of economics as a science, which further explains why economics originated at a time when communication between nations for the purpose of sharing data was not only feasible but practical.