Austrian economics slowly, tentatively entering the mainstream

8 01 2012

I have no desire to call myself an economist–I would have stuck with economics as a major if I desired the title–but I do consider myself an enthusiastic  and informed layman.

Like an increasing number of young people today, I’m partial to the views of the Austrian School; Austrian Business Cycle Theory, for example, explains both the root causes and the prolonged duration of our current economic crises–not bad for a century-old theory. Plus, it can be explained to nearly any audience in less than ten minutes (see the video at the like above).

I just can't use this picture of F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises enough

But as edgy as reading the works of long-dead and largely forgotten economists may seem, I’m no ideological hipster; I am eager to see the free-market, methodologically individualistic approach of the Austrian School re-enter the mainstream.

That’s why it’s great to see mentions of the Austrian School in, for example, the Wall Street Journal. It’s even more exciting, however, to see Austrianism taking taking flack from mainstream publications like The Economist and well known blogs like Slate.

The Slate article’s title (“What is ‘Austrian Economics’ and why is Ron Paul obsessed with it?”) article reveals one of the most visible causes of Austrianism’s contemporary revival–Ron Paul’s candidacy. Love him or hate him, Paul has spent decades attacking our cronyist system and fighting for real economic freedom; young activists, tired of political games, seem to be embracing his very Austrian message. Though the Slate article is rather one-sided, it has fueled a vigorous debate both in the article’s comment section and across the blogosphere (see this followup, for example).

In the long battle to raise awareness of economic thought outside the strictures of the neo-Keynesian establishment, all publicity is good publicity. And an article sharply critical of Austrian economics does more than any economic textbook I have ever had the displeasure of reading ever did: namely, it acknowledges the school’s existence. That’s certainly progress to get excited about.




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