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« Please Mr. Bush Don't Speak Anymore!!! | Main | Horwitz on Stossel-20/20 Fri 10/17 at 10pm EDT »


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Let me second Pete's recommendation of Rothbard's America's Great Depression. His discussion of Hoover, especially, is brilliant (even if it is not the most careful archival history) from which we learn (1) Hoover was in no way the "laissez faire" politician as he is so often depicted and (2) the parallels between Hoover's interventionist policies and those being developed today are striking, alarming, and disconcerting.

I''ve been rereading this work over the course of this week, and I would urge all followers of this blog to do the same.

Pete, what do you mean a reprint? The Mises Institute has sold thousands of this book in the last few weeks alone.

Yes, Rothbard's book is good. It is libertarian history with about 12 pages of Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABT). Rothbard is an amazingly clear and engagine writer. I wouldn't recommend that students consult that book to learn more about the ABC, however; there isn't much in that book in way of theory. It ain't like reading Prices and Production! But the myth among liberals that Hoover was a "do-nothing" president is still very popular, and this book does a good job dispelling it. The depression did not worsen because our president did nothing!

Now Professor Boettke seems to have in mind public policy and popular press outlets in this post. He wants students to write like Rothbard (libertarian history) and publish their work in the New York Times. I am not sure why. The academic world is a more exciting one. Ideas are more carefully developed and discussed in the academic world.

So for students interested in REALLY learning about the Austrian Business-Cycle Theory, you can forget about Rothbard's book. I would consult the critical literature. Nicky Kaldor has an excellent essay entitled "Professor Hayek and the Concertina effect" that has since been republished in one of his books; Shackle's work on Hayek and capital theory was always great --- His essay in his book "Business, Time, and Thought" entitled "Hayek as Economist" or something like that is also very good. Professor Fiona Maclachlan has written by far the best critical account of ABC in her book "Keynes' General Theory of Interest Reconsidered."

My advice to young scholars: Read these works and then write Austrian responses to them and submit them to places like Cambridge Journal of Economics, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Review of Political Economy, etc.


Rothbard's book is more important in its academic contribution than you suggestion.

And the post Keynesian contribution is less relevant to our current financial crisis than you want to believe.


And why learn from critics like Kaldor and Shackle when the theory they were attacking as since been developed in new ways, including ones that address some of their concerns? Fiona's book is a better choice, granted, but if you're going to say don't read Rothbard because there's so little theory there, then why not read more recent accounts of the cycle by Austrians who do a more thorough (and better, given the advances since 1963) job in laying it out?

That said, AGD remains indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand the GD. My problem with it is the opening chapter's uncritical stance toward 100% reserves. But the rest of the book is terrific.

How do academics deal with having to sit in front of a computer all day?

I mean, do you guys get eye problems or something (like professional singers get voice problems, professional athletes break bones, etc.)?

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