Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mises the Applied Economist

By John P. Cochran

Over at EconLog Alberto Mingardi has an excellent post on “Ebeling on Mises, the Applied Economist.” Ebeling is one of the top Mises scholars.  Mingardi's introduction:

The Liberty Fund has recently made available on line the introductions, written by Richard Ebeling, to the three volumes of "Selected Essays" by Ludwig von Mises that he edited some ten years ago. That project developed out of the discovery, made by Richard and his wife Anna, of the "lost papers" of Ludwig von Mises in a formerly secret KGB archive in Moscow, Russia in 1996.
Put together, Ebeling's three essays are a marvelous introduction to the great Austrian economist, and a must read for economists, historians, and curious laymen.
The papers discovered by the Ebelings shed new light on "Mises as applied economist, detailed policy analyst, and economic policy problem-solver in the detailed reality of the many pressing public policy issues that confronted the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and the new Austrian Republic in the aftermath of the Great War, and then the need for reconstruction and economic reform after the Second World War".
Surely Mises is most famous as a theorist, and rightly so. But at the very beginning of his career, as he couldn't enter academia for a permanent job, applying his insights to public policy provided Mises a good occasion to develop his own worldview.
More detail can be found in Ebeling’s excellent Political Economy, Public Policy and Monetary Economics: Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian Tradition. A summary from Amazon:
This fascinating book explores the cultural currents of anti-Semitism in Austria before and after the First World War that Mises confronted as an Austrian Jew; his analysis of Austria-Hungary’s establishment of a gold standard; Mises’ multi-sided activities in the years after the World War I in stemming a hyperinflation, opposing government fiscal mismanagement, and resisting misguided policies during the Great Depression; and his analysis of how Europe plunged into World War II and the policies to restore freedom and prosperity in the post-war period. It also discusses the confrontation between the Austrian Economists and the Keynesians over the causes and cures for the Great Depression, as well as how Mises’ "Austrian" approach to money and the business cycle contrasted with both the ideas of Joseph A. Schumpeter and the Swedish Economists of the interwar period.
This volume breaks new ground in placing Ludwig von Mises’ many original views on political economy, public policy and monetary economics in the historical context of his time, especially during the interwar period when he was a senior economic analyst for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and after his arrival in America during World War II. The book will therefore be of interest to students and researchers in monetary economics, political economy, expectations theory and the market process, and the history of economic thought.
Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are most relevant. Both the introductory essays highlighted by Mingardi and the book provide a greater understanding of the breadth and importance of Mises’s work both as a theorist and more importantly as an applied economist. Highly recommended.

The above originally appeared at

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