200 Years of the Theory of Comparative Advantage

by Shruti Rajagopalan Today is the 200th anniversary of David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, published on April 19, 1817. This remarkable, and rather unintuitive idea, is an essential component of every economist’s arsenal. When challenged by the mathematician Stan Ulam to name one proposition in the social sciences that was … Continue reading 200 Years of the Theory of Comparative Advantage

The Viennese culture of conversation: Understanding and defending fragile orders

by Stefan Kolev* For a better understanding of the turbulences of our time, studying those earlier politico-economic debates which focused on fragile orders of economy and society can certainly prove insightful. In The Viennese Students of Civilization, Erwin Dekker addresses such an age and interprets the works and impact of economists often labeled as the … Continue reading The Viennese culture of conversation: Understanding and defending fragile orders

South Africa and Ending Apartheid: W. H. Hutt and the Free Market Road Not Taken

                  by Richard M. Ebeling* The public eulogies marking the passing of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013 have refocused attention on the long struggle in South Africa to bring about an end to racial discrimination and the Apartheid system. Forgotten or … Continue reading South Africa and Ending Apartheid: W. H. Hutt and the Free Market Road Not Taken

Adam Smith and Obamacare

by Mario Rizzo Based on my non-scientific sampling of the morning talk-programs on TV, the “progressives” have discovered the law of unintended consequences. There seems to be universal agreement that if Obamacare is altered to allow people to keep their current healthcare insurance, regardless of whether it covers all of the contingencies the law has … Continue reading Adam Smith and Obamacare

Lawrence Klein: Keynesian Economist Who Wanted to Sidestep the Constitution

By Richard M. Ebeling Nobel Prizing-winning Keynesian economist, Lawrence Klein died on October 20, 2013, at the age of 93. A long-time professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1980 for his development of econometric (or statistical) models of the United States “macro” economy for purposes of … Continue reading Lawrence Klein: Keynesian Economist Who Wanted to Sidestep the Constitution

Herbert Davenport: The Economics of Enterprise

by Richard M. Ebeling* This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Herbert J. Davenport’s (1861-1931), The Economics of Enterprise, which appeared in the early months of 1913. Both mainstream economists as well as many “Austrians” seem to have long since forgotten Herbert Davenport. But during his time he was recognized as one … Continue reading Herbert Davenport: The Economics of Enterprise

In Defense of Herbert Spencer

by Mario Rizzo This my letter as it appears in today's Financial Times (July 10, 2013): Sir, John Kay (“Darwin’s  humbling lesson for business”, July 3) makes good points about evolutionary  theory and the social sciences. But he is wrong about Herbert Spencer, the noted  English philosopher and evolutionist. Spencer was not a Darwinist of … Continue reading In Defense of Herbert Spencer

James M. Buchanan: A Preliminary Appreciation

by Mario Rizzo The great economist James M. Buchanan died today at 93. I am still too stunned to write a proper appreciation of his tremendous contributions to economics and, indeed, to moral philosophy. Buchanan won the Nobel prize in Economics in 1986. But even this does not capture his greatness. There have been many Nobel … Continue reading James M. Buchanan: A Preliminary Appreciation

Clarifications of the Austro-Wicksellian Business Cycle Theory

by Mario Rizzo There has been a lively debate on forecasts of high inflation made by those worried about the Fed’s recent policy of quantitative easing. For details I refer the reader to Daniel Kuehn's excellent blog. The question to which I address myself is solely “What do these predictions have to do with core Austrian … Continue reading Clarifications of the Austro-Wicksellian Business Cycle Theory

“Modern Market” Monetarism?

by Mario Rizzo Douglas Irwin, a very fine economist at Dartmouth College, has a very puzzling opinion piece in yesterday’s Financial Times. The root of the puzzle is that Irwin seems to accept what I consider the naïve monetarist view, yet calling it by a new name “market monetarism,” that the effectiveness of monetary policy largely … Continue reading “Modern Market” Monetarism?

Wisconsin Policy Lab

by Chidem Kurdas Paul Ryan is said to be influenced by Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand. One might add that as the representative for Wisconsin's first congressional district, he is from a state that has often been in the vanguard of policy thinking. That he came up with specific proposals for Medicare and … Continue reading Wisconsin Policy Lab

The Limits of Bayesian Inference

by Gene Callahan Dan Klein's Knowledge and Coordination has something interesting to say about Bayesian inference, although he never explicitly addresses that topic. Consider the following: Here, we have the distinction between responding to the realization of events within a framework of recognized variables and relationships and the discovery of a fresh opportunity to embrace a new … Continue reading The Limits of Bayesian Inference

Austrian Economics: An Empirical and Experimental Science

by Mario Rizzo I have been doing research on the ideas of the first-generation Austrian economists (Menger, Wieser and Boehm-Bawerk) as they relate to contemporary developments in behavioral and experimental economics. I have come upon a number of interesting things. I expect to share some of them here as well as in a soon-forthcoming paper. … Continue reading Austrian Economics: An Empirical and Experimental Science

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROFESSOR HAYEK

by Mario Rizzo I could not let May 8th pass without writing something about F.A. Hayek, or rather my appreciation of Hayek. I have not been blogging recently because I have been working very hard researching and, at last, writing my book, with Glen Whitman, on behavioral economics and the new paternalism (no real title yet). In terms … Continue reading HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROFESSOR HAYEK

DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

by Chidem Kurdas The case made for minimal government by Milton and Rose Friedman in their 1979 book, Free to Choose, has been debunked,  according to Berkeley professor Brad DeLong.  Basically, he avers that the Friedman program has been tried and failed. As a commentary on Friedman, this is outrageously misleading. But Mr. DeLong  provides … Continue reading DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

O’Driscoll and Rizzo Got There First

by Gene Callahan I had believed that Tony Carilli and Greg Dempster ("Expectations in Austrian Business Cycle Theory: An Application of the Prisoner's Dilemma," The Review of Austrian Economics, 2001) made a major advance in Austrian Business Cycle Theory by hitting upon the correct solution to the challenge presented by, for instance, Gordon Tullock, who … Continue reading O’Driscoll and Rizzo Got There First

M. Friedman Goes to Washington

by Chidem Kurdas Early in his career, long before he became a Nobel prizewinner and the household name for free market economist, Milton Friedman worked for the US Treasury. The following anecdote is from his 1998 memoir with his wife Rose, Two Lucky People.  This revealing example of how public officials operate illustrates, in Friedman’s words, … Continue reading M. Friedman Goes to Washington

Capitalism Loses Against Chimera

by Chidem Kurdas Gripes about capitalism go back 150 years and more. In the Communist Manifesto of 1848 Marx and Engels thundered that the specter of revolution haunted Europe, that the periodic reappearance of commercial crises “put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society.” They were not the first to … Continue reading Capitalism Loses Against Chimera

Keynes, the Future and Present Austerity

by Chidem Kurdas In 1930, John Maynard Keynes dashed off an amazing prophecy. Extrapolating from the productivity gains of the past centuries, he came to the bold conclusion that the fundamental economic problem of scarcity would fade away in 100 years or so. Thanks to technological innovation and the accumulation of capital, the ancient condition … Continue reading Keynes, the Future and Present Austerity

Yes, Paul: It is Hayek versus Keynes

by Mario Rizzo Although by the standards of contemporary economics, I am a historian of economic thought, I am not a historian of economic thought, properly considered. Thus my major interest in F.A. Hayek’s business cycle theory is not from the point of view of a historian. My interest is only incidentally in how Hayek’s contributions … Continue reading Yes, Paul: It is Hayek versus Keynes

Chicago and Vienna

by Jerry O’Driscoll In the last two days, two prominent economists have asked me essentially the same question: what is the difference between Chicago and Austrian economics? It is interesting that both asked, particularly since one has a Ph.D from Chicago. The second economist asked me specifically if Armen Alchian wasn’t really an Austrian. I’ll respond … Continue reading Chicago and Vienna