Wednesday, June 11, 2014

David Brat Unscrubbed

By Adam Munter

There is a lot of stuff in the news about David Brat's victory over Eric Cantor. In the end, it matters little when one statist wins over another.

As Robert Wenzel pointed out many times, statist conservatives are more and more often being referred to as "libertarian" in the popular press, so I sought to find out how he sees the world. My goal wasn't to read his entire body of work, rather to look for writing in which he discusses his Weltanschauung.

Brat is a self-described "free-market, Milton Friedman economist," the first red flag. He teaches economics at the college level and his CV shows that he is a prolific writer. It was at but like a good deal of his writing has since been scrubbed from the Randolph-Macon College Faculty website.  Luckily, his CG is still in Google's Cache a t

This is an interesting paper/unpublished book of his
When searching for it I saw that it had already been mentioned in a few articles and the link is also now down the memory hole. I found a Microsoft Word version of it on their website and uploaded it to a fileshare for posterity:

The book purports to discuss the role of value and ethics in economics but manages to get to the root of neither while completely distorting the meaning of "value-free" analysis and referring to Methodological Individualism as "Perspectivism." Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek get two brief mentions and then aren't mentioned again, even though the paper could have benefited greatly from what they had to say on the subject.
The first footnote of the paper comments, "For the sake of brevity, I have included only Robbin’s essay as an example of Austrian method. Mises and von Hayek are critical figures in economic method, but they pull us away from the central line of thought under development in this reader."
He's referring to economist Lionel Robbins, who wrote in The Economic Problem in Peace and War – Some Reflections on Objectives and Mechanisms, Read Books, 2007 (1st ed. 1947), pp. 68, "I grew up in a tradition in which, while recognition was indeed given to the problems created by the ups and downs of the trade cycle and the fluctuations of aggregate demand, there was a tendency to ignore certain deep-seated possibilities of disharmony, in a way which, I now think, led sometimes to superficiality and sometimes to positive error. I owe much to Cambridge economists, particularly to Lord Keynes and Professor Robertson, for having awakened me from dogmatic slumbers in this very important respect."
Later, the brief reference to Mises and Rothbard are in the section about Robbins. The throwaway references to Austrians is the giveaway. Cite so you can't be accused of completely ignoring it, just damn it by faint praise so that the reader won't be exposed to it. The true mark of an economics professor careerist.

Another interesting paper: "Central Bank Independence and Economic Growth" (archived at to escape the memory hole)

This paper asks, "Do nations with more independent central banks experience higher rates of real economic growth?" and finds that  "By employing a standard Solow growth model which accounts for other factors which are acknowledged to influence growth, we find no role for measures of Central Bank independence in explaining differential growth rates among nations."
I wouldn't expect one form of economic interventionism to have a "better" outcome than the other, so the result isn't surprising. What's more interesting about Brat's thinking is that by his question being constructed in such a narrow fashion, it's unable to explore that central banking, regardless of independence, is equally detrimental. If anything, the paper only provides ammunition for those who want to continue central banking and manipulate it for one social engineering end or another.
If anyone is interested in the rest of his works, you can dig them out of Google's cache with the query



    His campaigns manager is a 23 year old Ron Paul and lew Rockwell supporting Austrian.

  2. Just stunned at these pessimistic conclusions, psychically divining not only unstated opinions of Brat - but convictions of his future conspiracies (especially regarding Central banks). The man SAYS there is no data to support justifying Central Bank authority as a preferential mechanism of (real) national growth. He says in another paper that he likes data to support economic theory (as opposed to pure Austrian economic theory by itself.). Exactly where is the logic in damning someone for not addressing something you want to be addressed in more detail in a paper whose main objective was something entirely different?

    Hasn't this site bemoaned the fact that politicians had no understanding of economic theory? Now you have one (and he is clearly NOT a Keynesian - at least). And finding nothing that makes him a clear opponent to Mises principles - have decided he is part of the evil establishment.

    This site is more and more looking like a brainwashed cult rather than an objective source of Libertarian reporting and education.

  3. "Hasn't this site bemoaned the fact that politicians had no understanding of economic theory? Now you have one (and he is clearly NOT a Keynesian - at least)."

    He's a Chicago-School Monetarist who is too much of a coward to discuss minimum wage on TV. Marxists are also "not-Keynesian," not a very high bar you're setting there, PoliJim.

    From PoliJim's blog:

    "Yes I’m a Cruz fan."

    That says it all. I cede to you the knowledge of what it's like to be in a brainwashed cult. You're obviously an expert.