Monday, April 11, 2011

A better man than I

Jonathan has started reading Keynes's General Theory - something I am informing you of because he will be blogging his thoughts as he goes. I would like to read some of the major Austrian works (and I know some readers have pushed me to), but I simply don't think it's likely in the near future. I'm pretty burned out as it is and reading has been slow for me so I try to pick up books with immediately utility (like this science and tech policy stuff which is informing my NBER chapter) or simply something to distract me (like the wine book I'm reading now that isn't even "academic"). Some day.

I'd simply want to reread The General Theory myself - I haven't read it through since 2006, and needless to say a lot has changed in the way I think about the economy since then.


  1. Could I condescend to offer a few suggestions?

  2. Book suggestions?

    You're always welcome to, but again I'm not sure I'll get to any of it in the near future. There's enough mainstream stuff I've got to master.

  3. In no particular order of importance:

    Human Action, by von Mises
    Economics in One Lesson, by Hazlitt
    Failure of the New Economcs, by Hazlitt (to give you an example of the Austrian take on Keynes)
    Prices and Production, by Hayek
    The Mystery of Banking, by Rothbard

  4. Well I've got Prices and Production under my belt!

    To be honest, the sections you've sent me to on Hazlitt in the past make me less likely to read him. I would much rather read a modern Austrian critique of Keynes - I don't think those are always adequate or convincing, but I was not impressed by Hazlitt. Perhaps this is a misperception on my part, but it's a perception nonetheless. Rothbard is actually probably the one I'm most likely to read - his economic history.

  5. "Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective" by Steven Horwitz.

    It isn't perfect but I think it could be close to what you are looking for.

    See Ryan Murphy's short review:

  6. The biggest challenge, I suppose, in these instances, is to convince oneself to be congenial/impartial to the author before you begin reading him (or her)... A non-trivial matter given that we have typically already formed strong opinions about this person or that nowadays through hearsay and secondary sources.

    It takes a truly remarkable effort, on behalf of both the reader and the author, to change minds during the course of a single reading. Actually, that is about the most valuable things that I've taken from the blogosphere; regular interaction and back-and-forth between different parties, which seems much more effective at changing mindsets than a one-off reading.

    Still, no better test than going back to the original source!

  7. menschensfreund - ya, I've been curious about Horwitz's book for a while.

    stickman - and I like to think I'm a fair reader. I come across so many boorish Austrians in the blogosphere, that none of the classic texts come across that way in comparison, which makes it easier. I personally think it's good we don't change our minds so easily... if we could change our minds in a substantial way (not just "looking at it from a different angle") after reading one book or having one conversation, it seems to me we didn't have strong enough warrant to believe what we believed before.

  8. I only offered Hazlitt because he is one of the few places where I can point and say, "You want to know why Austrians disagree with you? Here."

    Hazlitt also edited another book called The Critics of Keynesian Economics (which he did not write, merely compile).

    The only other source I might offer for the Austrian take is Rothbard.


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