Thursday, February 21, 2013

A note on specific Austrians

Bob Murphy has come under a lot of heat for his inflation predictions. Probably rightly so so long as the nature of that heat is appropriate. He should think through why we didn't see prices go up and indeed he has thought through that.

Murphy is associated with the Mises Institute which is often associated with the "bad/crazy Austrians". And indeed, there are some crazy ones down there in Auburn.

But Bob Murphy has never given me the impression that he doubts that I accept Smithian principles of spontaneous order through a market process. He also thinks OLG models are important and flexible tools for thinking through problems - he doesn't yearn for some literary economic golden age, nor does he harass mathematical economists as somehow being averse to good literary exposition.

You never have to play those bullshit games with him.

You basically toss around the arguments and the data. You recognize models are just tools for thinking.

Bob does get caught up in Krugman, of course. But he's usually trying to catch him in a contradiction, not argue that he's some kind of monster. His Rothbardianism can be tough for some people to take. You have to learn to co-exist with arguments that preventing a civilization killing asteroid is unethical or just close comments when you're thinking out loud about war.

But all in all, he's a good sort of Austrian - not that he's always right but that he's an Austrian you can usually work through an argument with.

So - just because the heat has been on him and there's this presumption that Fairfax is civilized and Auburn is barbaric - I thought that was worth saying.

11 comments:

  1. Put Jonathan Catalan in this category too.

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  2. I appreciate it, but you're totally ruining my street cred.

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    1. That's why I reminded everybody of all your crazy Rothbardianisms! I'm looking out for you!

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    2. I totally respect Bob, and I don't believe that everybody at Auburn is crazy. I do, however, believe the GMU wing is underrepresented (both among the public and academics). Whenever Krugman or DeLong says "Austrian" they certainly mean "Auburn," even if they don't realize it.

      Ex: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/ron-paul-on-money-market-funds/

      Krugman says "the Austrians," but most in the GMU camp (White, Selgin, Horwitz) are totally fine with frac. reserve banking. Yet the reader would get the impression that all Austrians are 100% reservists.

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  3. Over at Bob's blog it's hard not to see the self described Austrian contingent as anti-scientific cultists. You should see some of the stuff over there this week. Apparently the new term for the empirically minded (like me) is Scientologist!

    Some don't even seem to WANT to have discussions. There's a thread there where they get all wee-wee-ed up if you distinguish between something built with taxes and something built with "forced labor".

    On economics I agree Bob isn't like that.

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  4. "Put Jonathan Catalan in this category too."

    Bonobos!

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    Replies
    1. Are you seriously calling him a chimpanzee?

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    2. This is an inside joke that it's best not to revisit :)

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  5. John S: "I see."

    Be thankful you didn't watch.

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