The Virtues of the Market: Wilhelm Röpke as a Cultural Economist

Patricia Commun / Stefan Kolev (eds.): Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966). A Liberal Political Economist and Conservative Social Philosopher, Springer, Cham 2018, 272 pages, 123 Euro.

by Erwin Dekker

Neo-liberalism is often associated with an excessive focus on the market at the expense of both the state and society. This new book, which is the outcome of a conference held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Röpke’s death, demonstrates that precisely this imbalance was one of the main worries of many ordoliberals, and in particular of Wilhelm Röpke.

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Don’t Trust the CPI – Inflation is Hidden Somewhere Else!

by Gunther Schnabl

Both in Europe and in the US, interest rates have fallen to still very low levels and central banks have used unconventional measures to stimulate the economy. Nevertheless, officially measured inflation rates have remained low. While central bankers are proud of the high degree of price stability, many citizens feel their purchasing power diminishing. How does this fit together?

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Fed Policy

by Jerry O’Driscoll

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testified to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. It was the semi-annual testimony mandated by the Humphrey–Hawkins Act.  Powell’s testimony was anodyne. He repeated and reiterated the Fed’s planned policy moves with respect to interest rates, and added suitable caveats on economic growth, inflation, and tariffs. Trade policy is a new factor for Fed policymakers. Continue reading

Reflections on the NYU Experience for Mario Rizzo’s 70th Birthday

by Robert P. Murphy

Like many others, I have been enjoying the birthday wishes offered to Mario. (Happy birthday Mario!) But these notes of congratulation have also included reminiscences of the Austrian Colloquium. As a PhD student on the Austrian fellowship at NYU from 1998-2003, I have some of my own reflections to share. (Disclaimer: I am fairly confident in these memories, but these events happened almost 20 years ago so proceed with caution.)

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Tanti auguri, professore!

by Malte Dold

Two of my favorite articles by Mario Rizzo are “Abstract Morality for an Abstract Order: Liberalism’s Difficult Problem” (Supreme Court Economic Review, 2015) and “Behavioral Economics and Deficient Willpower: Searching for Akrasia” (The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, 2016). Both of these recent articles wonderfully illustrate the depth, breadth, and originality of Mario’s thinking. On one hand, they reflect his deep knowledge of the history of economic and philosophical thought. On the other hand, they deal with contemporary challenges in economic, legal, and psychological theory.  Many of my co-congratulators correctly emphasized how well-read Mario is in economics and philosophy. Personally, I love and admire his ventures into psychology.

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Many happy returns to a 21st century Whig

by Nick Cowen

I met Mario Rizzo in person for the first time just two years ago when I joined the Classical Liberal Institute. I have since had the pleasure of teaching alongside him on his course on Classical Liberalism at the NYU School of Law. For much longer, I have benefitted from his influence from his public writing and through the academic networks that he has helped establish.

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Happy birthday to Mario, my longtime friend and associate

by Larry White

Mario and I go back many years. Decades, if truth be told. When we first met (summer 1975 Austrian Economics conference in Hartford, CT, if I recall correctly) he was a graduate student and I was an undergraduate. Six years later we became colleagues at New York University, where we shared the privilege of working with Israel Kirzner. Mario managed to stay at NYU (and it’s hard to imagine him in any other city); I had to move on in 1988. These days we frequently cross paths in New York and Fairfax and at conferences elsewhere.

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AD MAIORA, Mario!

by Giandomenica Becchio

On this special birthday, I wish Mario Rizzo all the best and I praise him for being a great Austrian economist and a great scholar. I always learn a lot when reading his works. Also, a special thanks for having been always supportive and helpful to me. Tanti auguri caro Mario, best birthday wishes, dear Mario. You are a special person.

On behalf of the Roman Empire children, Let me claim: “we are proud of you.”

Mon ami, Mario…

by Frederic Sautet

I first met Mario Rizzo in 1995 while he was lecturing at a seminar in the US. I remember an evening I spent at his dinner table along with other students. I was shy and remained silent almost the entire time, listening to him talk about a variety of subjects. At the end, however, we started to chat, notably of his liking of Europe and especially of Italy and France — he has been a regular attendee of the Université d’été in Aix-en-Provence for a long time. Eventually, he encouraged me to come to NYU to study, which I did in January 1996. To make a long story short, I ended up writing my doctoral dissertation under his auspices, with the help of Pete Boettke and Israel Kirzner. I then spent another year at NYU as a post-doc.

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Happy Birthday, Mario

by Steve Horwitz

I’m not sure when I first met Mario, but it was probably when I was in grad school at GMU in the late 80s. Mario probably remembers it better than I do, mostly because, as Pete Boettke and Dave Prychitko can confirm, I was not shy about imposing myself on more senior scholars. (Frankly, neither were they, but somehow I got the bad reputation.) Whatever the circumstances under which we first met, they were not reason to shun me in succeeding years.

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Birthday Greetings from an NYU Disciple

Dear Mario,

Felicitations on your birthday. Your leadership and dedication have been a blessing to many in need of friendship and support. Your kindness and goodwill have helped our networks succeed. Your scholarship and teaching have advanced liberal understanding. You’re making a great difference, and your birthday is a great day to say: Thank you!

Warm sincere regards, Dan Klein

 

Warmest congratulations

by Israel Kirzner

Warmest congratulations to Mario Rizzo on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Having been associated with Mario for close to a half-century (ever since, as he never forgets to remind me, I arrived late to deliver a talk which he had arranged) – I count myself as one of the many who have been uplifted and illuminated by Mario’s steel-trap mind, depths and subtlety of understanding, and unswerving intellectual integrity.

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Happy Birthday, Professor Rizzo!

by Pete Boettke

I want to wish Mario Rizzo the very best on his 70th birthday. To this day, the phone call I received from him in March of 1990 remains the highlight of my professional career. Mario called me at my office at Oakland University to tell me I was going to be offered an Assistant Professorship in the Economics Department at NYU.  I ran home, rang the doorbell, and did my best Frank Sinatra impression of “New York, New York” for Rosemary and we hugged and jumped up and down.  The next 8 years of my professional life were critical in so many ways, and I owe that to Mario and Israel Kirzner, their mentorship and their guiding example. So, on a personal-professional level, my debt to Mario is very deep, and my friendship with him at an intellectual and personal level is something I cherish greatly.

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Happy Birthday

by Jerry O’Driscoll

I am writing to wish very best birthday greetings to Mario Rizzo, who will be 70 on July 6th. It is a landmark I reached last October.

Mario is my most longstanding friend. Our friendship goes back to undergraduate days at Fordham University. We met in intermediate macroeconomics. We resisted the textbook Keynesian message. Our instructor was patient, and even allowed us once to address the class in a debate format. We generally upheld a classical economic position.

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THE TYRANNY OF METRICS, Jerry Muller, Princeton, 220 pp.

by Edward Chancellor*

Once upon a time, there was a factory in the Soviet Union that made nails. Moscow set quotas on nail production. When the quotas involved quantity, the factory churned out many small, useless nails. When Moscow realised its error and set a quota by weight instead, the factory produced big, equally useless nails that weighed a pound each.

This much repeated tale of Soviet industrial inefficiency is an urban legend. But it contains a large grain of truth. Communism failed in large measure because central planners had inadequate knowledge of conditions on the ground and their attempts at control were generally thwarted. It would be nice to think that we have learnt from the mistakes of Stalin’s Russia. This is not the case as Jerry Muller explains in his book, “The Tyranny of Metrics.” The world remains in thrall to what Muller calls “metric mania.”

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China’s Great Wall of Debt, Dinny McMahon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pp.

by Edward Chancellor*

China’s economy has long defied the doom-mongers. In place of their ominous critique, a more constructive view of economic management in the People’s Republic has surfaced. Beijing, we are told, has found the right balance between state and market forces, and is best positioned to exploit exciting new technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence. Politically fractured and economically sclerotic Western nations can only look on in envy.

Dinny McMahon, a former financial journalist and mandarin speaker who spent many years reporting on the Middle Kingdom, doesn’t buy this line. In his view, China’s economy has spent years locked in continuous stimulus mode, accumulating bad debts and generating great economic imbalances along the way. This is not an original thesis. But it’s a welcome reality check on the current China hype. Of the many books that have observed the fragility and contradictions of China’s economic model, “China’s Great Wall of Debt” is the best. McMahon writes well, has a fine eye for detail and finds original stories to illustrate his argument.

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Rigidity and Flexibility: Unions in the On-Demand Economy?

by Liya Palagashvili

A couple months ago, a judge ruled in favor of Seattle’s ordinance that will allow ridesharing drivers to engage in collective bargaining agreements. The ordinance has granted the labor union, Teamsters, the right to represent drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft. Under current U.S. labor laws, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRA) gives employees the right to unionize, but ridesharing drivers are legally classified as independent contractors, and thus outside of the purview of this legislation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has initiated litigation to challenge the validity of this ordinance on several grounds (e.g., preemption by NLRA, antitrust violations), though while in the appeals process, the city has begun to move forward to implement this first-in-the-nation law.

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