Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Henry Hazlitt on Hayek vs. Friedman

In November 1978, Richard Ebeling and Don Lavoie conducted a fascinating interview for The Libertarian Review with the very under-rated economist Henery Hazlitt. I found Hazlitt's comments about the long term legacy of F.A.Hayek and Milton Friedman most fascinating.

In the late 1970s, Hayek and Friedman were both at the top of their game but Hazlitt, even back then, saw more long lasting influence for Hayek---which, at the present time, seems to be an accurate forecast.
LR: You also know Hayek's fellow free marketeer and Nobel Laureate, Milton Friedman. How would you contrast their approaches?

Hazlitt: Well, Milton has always been very sure of himself. He's a very clear writer, a very easily readable writer. He has a very vigorous mind. But Hayek's has always been more an exploring mind, more a mind that is not certain that he knows all the answers and in fact changes his answers frequently. He's also a much more subtle writer, and a much more difficult writer to read partly because of stylistic reasons. His sentences are sometimes endless. I think that Hayek's influence will be felt much longer than Milton's though, because although Milton is .a beautifully lucid writer, and a first-rate debater, what he's contributed to economics is more questionable. In his monetary theories, he is, curiously enough, a statist. In spite of the fact that in everything else he is for the free market, when he comes to money, he's a complete statist. He believes that control of the supply of money should be left entirely in the hands of the state ..And his theory keeps changing all the time.
Sometimes he's advocated zero increase in the money supply, sometimes 2% , sometimes 4-5-6%-1 think 6% is the highest he's openly gone-and in one essay, he even said, "well, I really think I'm coming back to 2%. 2 % for the long run will be good. But on the other hand, I would advocate 5 % ." I think that Hayek's influence will be more deep seated and longer lasting than Milton's.


  1. "In his monetary theories, he is, curiously enough, a statist. In spite of the fact that in everything else he is for the free market, when he comes to money, he's a complete statist."

    I've always admired Hazlitt - now more than ever.

  2. Speaking of the clueless and horrible Jimmy Carter.....

    I subscribed to Libertarian Review, read every issue and still have them in the attic. After hearing Hillary and Bernie braying Sunday night in Flint about how we need more government mental health care, I recalled Thomas Szasz saying back in 1979 that Rosalynn Carter was Nurse Ratched. It was hilarious then and hilarious now. See page 27:


    Jimmy and Rosalynn were quite a creepy twosome.

  3. More Thomas Szasz on the Carters from 1979:

    Mrs. Carter shares her husband's image of Americans as greedy materialism addicts who ought to do with less and worship Jimmy. For all we know, she may even have developed this image herself and infected her husband with it. On a tour in July selling the President, she told reporters: "What I would like the people of this country to do is every time they turn out a light, every time they ride a bicycle or car pool, to think about Jimmy and that they are doing this for the country." I submit that President and Mrs. Carter treat us, the American people, as if we were sinful addicts, given over to unpatriotic dissipations, not because that is the way we are, but because that is the way they want to see us. Theirs is the pat, time-honored priestly-psychiatric posture: I am virtuous—you are wicked; I am sane—you are insane; I know how to cure what ails you, and I'll fix you, whether you like it or not. Politicians used to promise us two chickens in every pot. The Carters tell us we are eating too much chicken, that eating less of it is good for us—and patriotic to boot. But the facts are all the other way. There is no "shortage" of oil. That is to say, there is no more of a shortage of oil than there is of anything else in the world that people desire and the supply of which is limited. Nor are we addicted to oil—any more than are the people of all industrially advanced and politically free societies—with whom most people in the rest of the world would like to change places. Finally, we are not —and let us make no mistake about this—going to be better off by emasculating ourselves, economically, politically, or psychologically. The idea that it is sinful and wrong for one person to have more than another goes back to ancient history.

  4. I like Hazlitt a lot better than Hayek or Friedman lol!
    Mises is the best though.