Monday, May 18, 2015

Remember This: Gordon vs. Rizzo

Rizzo on Austrians and Remembering the Past

By David Gordon

Mario Rizzo, -a well-known Austrian economist who teaches at NYU, made an important point about Austrian economics in a recent post on Facebook. He said, ” If you are an economist and want to be remembered by future generations, then you really should be a Austrian. We pay full homage to our ancestors and do not pretend that we discovered something new if we have not. On the other hand, most top-level conventional graduate students today barely know the names Ricardo, Mill, Marshall, Hicks, Samuelson, Coase, Friedman and they certainly have little idea of what they said. A word to the wise is sufficient.”
Rizzo’s post calls attention to the fact that a great deal of progress in Austrian economics occurs through the creative use of the work of past Austrians. For contemporary Austrians, Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard are continuing sources of insight.  In some Austrian circles, though, Rothbard is shunted to one side.
I wonder, though, whether if taken au pied de la lettre, Rizzo’s statement is true.  Are most top-level conventional graduate students really that ignorant of the history of economics? What is the evidence for this? Even if this claim is correct, though, it is not clear that Rizzo’s conclusion follows. Even if most  top-level conventional graduate students do not know the work of the past greats, maybe there are enough who do know their work to ensure that they will be remembered. And why assume in the first place that whether an economist will be remembered depends on what such  graduate students think?
The above originally appeared at

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