Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Assessing Austrian Economist Eugen Böhm-Bawerk’s Contributions

Richard Ebeling emails:
Dear Bob,

This month “Liberty Matters,” the discussion forum for “matters pertaining to liberty,” that is part of the “Online Library of Liberty” run by Liberty Fund of Indianapolis, is featuring my essay,  “Assessing Böhm-Bawerk’s Contribution to Economics After a Hundred Years.”
I explain the life, ideas and economic contributions of the leading, early Austrian economist, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. Famous for his development of the “Austrian” theory of capital and interest, he also was one of the leading critics of Karl Marx and his theory of capitalist exploitation of workers.

He also restated, refined and improved the theory of marginal utility and price formation first formulated by Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School. In this context, he was a critic of interventionist policies interfering with market-based prices and wages

Less well known is that he also several times served as the finance minister of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire under the Hapsburg emperor, Franz Joseph. Especially during his four-year stint as finance minister from 1900-1904, he followed a strict fiscal policy of limited taxation and restrained government spending, while defending the gold standard and resisting attempts to introduce Keynesian-type public works “stimulus” projects.

The format of the “Liberty Matters” series is that after the posting of my “lead essay” summarizing and discussing Böhm-Bawerk’s life and work on April 1, a week later there will be posted “response essays” by Dr. Roger Garrison (Auburn University); Dr. Peter Lewin (University of Texas at Dallas) and Dr. Joseph Salerno (Lubin School of Business, Pace University).

After which I will have the opportunity to respond to their commentaries, and then an open discussion will follow among the participants. 

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk was one of the great economists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and one of the fountainheads of modern Austrian Economics. Anyone interested in the “Austrian” tradition, and its insights for understanding the free market competitive process, will find, I think, this month’s “Liberty Matters” discussion valuable and worth following.


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