by Jerry O’Driscoll
Not my words, but those of Armen Alchian, as reported by William Allen in Econ Journal Watch. Allen has written his memoirs and a history of UCLAs economics department in “A Life Among the Econ, Particularly at UCLA.” To a great extent, it is the story of Alchian and the core group around him in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Allen was co-author with Alchian of University Economics, an influential undergraduate textbook that inspired Paul Heyne’s Economic Way of Thinking.
My own way of thinking was influenced as much by the UCLA tradition as by Mises and Hayek. Mises and Hayek had an important influence on that tradition, however. An emphasis on decision making under uncertainty and incomplete information was its hallmark. All social phenomena could be analyzed by economics, and the economic analysis was micro.
Alchian didn’t deny there were aggregate economic phenomena, only that theory must be microeconomic. In substance, that was Hayek’s view.
Graduate macro classes had as much micro in them as designated micro class. Alchian wrote many of the macro prelim questions, wrongly attributed by students to Axel Leijonhufvud.
Among the luminaries who came and stayed in this period were Harold Demsetz and Robert Clower. Among those who came and left were James Buchanan, Sam Peltzman and Thomas Sowell. My dissertation committee consisted of Leijonhufvud (Chair), Peltzman and Sowell.