Archive for September, 2010

War and Central Banking

September 8, 2010

Scott Horton interviews Lew Rockwell on mass killing and mass counterfeiting, and less government interference in the economy and our lives.

Scott Horton and Lew Rockwell on AntiWar Radio/

The Sunset of the State

September 8, 2010

The Anarchy of “You Can’t Take it With You”

September 8, 2010

The Story of Your Enslavement

September 8, 2010

The Old Austrian New Economics

September 7, 2010

Robert Wenzel on four Austrian economic primers for a much deeper understanding of the causal-realist perspective [A PDF of 3/4 included in the links].

Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, is out with a new book, Austrian Economics: A Primer.

It would be difficult to overestimate how valuable of a book this is as an introduction to Austrian Economics. I now consider it part of a four-book set that one needs to read to develop a basic understanding of Austrian economics.

To get an understanding of correct economics, a beginner should start off by reading the first eight chapters of Andrew and Peter Schiff’s How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes. Reading the first part of the book is the easiest way to get a quick grasp of basic economics from an Austrian perspective. (Note: I advise to read only the first roughly 100 pages because following that the Schiffs go on to explain monetary inflation in a confusing fashion that will only befuddle the reader.)

Following the Schiffs’ book, the beginner should read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. This book is a tour de force of how proper economic thinking should be done.

This should be followed by Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money. This is the best introduction to money and how the government distorts money in ways that ultimately result in inflation. In fact, this slim book is the perfect substitute for the chapters on inflation where the Schiffs would leave you confused.

The final book of the four-book set is Butler’s book. This book is as hardcore of an introduction to Austrian economics as you can get. Whereas the Schiffs and Hazlitt discuss basic economics, they do not identify the thinkers behind the theories they are using. Butler names the names. They all here, Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Kirzner and others.

Butler in a non-technical easy to follow fashion discuses and explains such original Austrian concepts as marginal utility, opportunity cost, the importance of time and ignorance and the business cycle. He also provides an important short history of the Austrian School of economics, as he explains the concepts the ‘Austrians’ have developed.

Thus, Butler’s primer is a very important addition to understanding Austrian economics as it ties the basics to the various important Austrian players and the contributions they have made.

Butler’s book can also be valuable beyond the role it plays for the introductory economics student. Often I find when running into graduate students in economics or MBA students, many are only being taught mainstream Keynesian economics and are, amazingly, unfamiliar with Austrian economics at all. These students may grasp parts of what the Schiffs and Hazlitt teach, so that for these students they may be directed directly to Butler’s book. I’m sure that they will be quite surprised as to the role Austrian School economists have played in even such basic concepts as marginal utility and opportunity cost. (They may even associate the name Menger with the discovery of marginal utility, along with Jevons and Walars, but never realize that Menger was the founder of a school of economic thought that went well beyond marginal utility.)

Finally, Butler’s book can play an important role as a reference guide for the student of Austrian economics who is just past the basics, but may need a quicker refresher on a specific topic. Butler’s book is without question the most accurate and honest depiction, at the basic level, of Austrian economics and its theorists.

The Rothbardian School

September 3, 2010

The Rothbardian School by Ryan McMaken

…Rothbard carried on the radically anti-interventionist economics of Ludwig von Mises who denied the value of government intervention in markets virtually 100 percent of the time. Rothbard takes this even further in his political economy, but for the educated layman, the economics of Mises and Rothbard will differ very little.

Hayek, on the other hand, was far more accepting of government interventions, even going so far as to speak well of tax-funded old-age pensions and government regulation of food production. Hayek was a great popularizer of many Austrian ideas, and he was the most famous critic of Keynes in his day, but his policy prescriptions are not what animate the reformers of today.

Note that I do not expel Hayek into the outer darkness for these sins, but it is nevertheless clear that this division between the Rothbardians and the Hayekians is one between radical reformers on the one hand, and those who are far more accommodating of the status quo on the other.

Given the rhetoric surrounding the libertarian mass movement today, however, it is clear that it is the Rothbardian branch and the Ron Paul movement that is the animating force behind the spread of the ideas of Austrian Economics…

Lila Rajiva on the WSJ Austro-Treatment

September 3, 2010

LILA: One article does not make a promotion, true. But over the last 3 years, I’ve collected dozens/scores of articles by academic libertarians (see here and here) doing the same thing to the Mises Institute folks, I have seen enough evidence to suit me. Many journalists apparently think they’re fighting the good fight against racism or sexism or anti-Semitism by attacking the Mises folks….as they also did with Rothbard. And as they believed they were going when they revived various innuendos about Ron Paul .

The day the WSJ publishes an article accurately citing the Mises folks by name for their contributions (love ‘em or hate ‘em), treating their output and accomplishments fairly and even-handedly, is the day propaganda in the US will give way to journalism.

Do I think Mises is being revived? Actually, yes. But I think the revival is being positioned so as to cut the Mises Institute and out of it, along with all the other positions/people believed to be associated with them…

That is, Mises will be repositioned in a way more acceptable to academia. I have no quarrel with that, since that is partly my interest, which is why I try to take into consideration issues of gender, race, and language that libertarians (including The Bell) scorn as PC.

My issue – contra The Bell – is not with Boettke or Kelly Evans – but with the WSJ’s intellectual honesty about Austrian economics.

On that question, the case has long ago been decided…

Mises Shakes the World!

September 3, 2010

The Daily Bell on Mises Shakes the World

Free-Market Analysis: We are returning to the “Spreading Hayek, Spurning Keynes” Wall Street Journal article to answer the question that Ryan McMaken asks in his fine article at (and then answers judiciously as well). We are returning as well because this is an incredibly important issue from our point of view as a periodical that analyzes power-elite dominant social themes from a free market perspective. We do have a slightly different take on the answer; in fact we feel, collectively, a tad passionate about the article from a libertarian standpoint.

The question, again: Why did the Wall Street Journal write an article about the history of Austrian finance without mentioning the Mises Institute or Lew Rockwell? Our answer to the question is not so eloquent as Mr. McMaken’s but is almost as heartfelt. Our answer would be that “people who are interested in freedom should care very much about this article and the surrounding debate.” Why? Because we think the Austrian economic movement is one of the longest-lived and most important intellectual and ideological conversations in history. And whatever misrepresents it is of similar import, especially if it represents a larger trend…

WSJ on the Austrian School and the Resulting Controversy

September 2, 2010

Spreading Hayek, Spurning Keynes

…[T]he 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics that opposes government intervention in markets and decries federal spending to prop up demand during times of crisis…

Robert Wenzel on the WSJ article on the Austrian Revival

It would probably be best to describe Pete [Boettke] as the standard-bearer of the Uptight Wing of the Austrian School of Economics. The Uptights tend to promote the work of Noble Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek, over the work of the Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.

Disscussing Hayek but ignoring Mises is something akin to discussing Scottie Pippen when talking about the championship years of the Chicago Bulls and not mentioning Michael Jordan. Nothing wrong with Pippen, but Jordan was “The Man.”

In economics, there’s nothing wrong with promoting the work of Hayek, in general he was a great economist. But “The Man” is Ludwig von Mises. The Uptights tend to push Mises down the memory hole because according to them he was “too stubborn.” Translation: He was a man of principle in the face of severe establishment pressure to bend.

Notice there is no mention of Mises in the profile on Boettke.

[Wenzel update on Boettke.]

Tom DiLorenzo on Lying about and the Mises Institute

…There is a group of economists there who are ashamed of the name “Austrian economics” who nevertheless claim to be, well, sort of, kind of, anyhow, Austrian economists, but they keep desperately trying to come up with a new name for themselves. Their latest ridiculous name is “coordination problem economists.” Sounds like a marketing nightmare, but hey, they’re academics…

The Daily Bell: The WSJ Discovers the Austrians & Boettke but not the Mises Institute

…The Journal’s corporate heart is not collectively in its work. While those who work there have commenced writing about the Austrian school, the institution as a whole is not yet up to speed. This is the only explanation that occurs to us (other than outright antipathy) given that the Journal can present an article about the modern history of the Austrian school (and Boettke) without a single mention of the global on-line Ludwig von Mises Institute or even Lew Rockwell who founded it along with his mentor Murray Rothbard. This is a little bit like writing a history of America without mentioning founding fathers. It is not just a reportorial lapse; it is a lacunae the size of a continent. We have interviewed prominent Mises’ fellows at the Daily Bell and even a cursory review of the Internet would yield a plethora of information about the Institute…

Lew Rockwell on Austrians Again

…One side, which has made its peace with the Fed and the rest of DC, has Koch oil billions and subscription-only newspapers on its side. The other has the free Internet and the man whose very name can still make Charles Koch go apoplectic, as happened not too long ago in Aspen. For more than 50 years, it’s been Power vs. Murray. I know where I’m putting my money…