Archive for September 2013

Walter Block: Tenets of Libertarianism & more!

Here I reveal the two most important tenets of Libertarian thought, I also show how to see things through the prism of Libertarianism. Is government campatible with Libertarianism? Is it necessarily a violator of Libertarian principles and finally is The United States like a club? I explain this and more here!

Mises Daily Thursday: ‘The Walking Dead’ and a Refuge from the Modern State

zombiePaul Cantor’s series on the economics of the Zombie apocalypse continues with his analysis of the hit show The Walking Dead:

The Walking Dead suggests that government and other modern institutions connected to it do not offer solutions to catastrophic problems but in fact only exacerbate them. It offers a number of horrifying scenes in hospitals, revealing the savage battles that took place between zombies and military forces (unlike the C.D.C.’s zombie comic book, The Walking Dead does not balk at showing the government using force against its citizens). Supposedly the sites where the zombie infection might be cured or at least contained, hospitals turned out to be a means of spreading the plague among concentrated populations. As articulated in the television series and even more clearly in the earlier comic book version, the main government strategy for dealing with the plague was to concentrate people in major cities such as Atlanta, where, it was hoped, they could be protected more easily by civilian and military authorities. Many of the characters were lured into Atlanta by the promise of safety in numbers, only to find to their dismay that it was the zombies whose numbers prevailed in urban conflict. Government central planning came up with the centralization of the population as the solution to the problem—concentrate people and fix them within a supposedly defensible perimeter. But in The Walking Dead this standard operating procedure of governments backfires and only makes it easier for the ever-increasing horde of zombies to prey upon the remaining humans.

 

Yuri Maltsev Explains the Tea Party

Layout 1Co-authored with Roman Skaskiw, Senior Fellow Yuri Maltsev’s new book The Tea Party Explained: From Crisis to Crusade is, according to the publisher:

aimed at the intrigued and curious reader who wants to find out more about this unique phenomenon. The book gives a well-documented account of the Tea Party, its origins, its evolution, the bitter squabbles over its direction, its amazing successes in 2010, and its electoral rebuff in 2012. Maltsev and Skaskiw analyze the demographics of the Tea Party, the many organizations which have tried to represent, appropriate, or infiltrate the movement, and the ideological divisions in its ranks.

‘Reassessing the Presidency’ now an eBook

EBOKB284Reassessing the Presidency, an 825-page collection of essays from top scholars in the Austrian tradition, is a groundbreaking work that demolishes the court historians’ case for endless president-worship.

We’re happy to announce that the book is now available as an ebook in the Mises Store. eBooks_banner

New Mises View: Peter Klein Explains Blackberry’s Fall, Monopolies, and the State

In our latest video for The Mises View, Peter G. Klein discusses the demise of Blackberry and how the market, not regulators, should pick technology winners and losers.

Leonard Read on Liberty vs. Utopia

6541Writes Gary Galles in Wednesday’s Mises Daily:

Read saw that liberty’s defenders must face the fact that markets are amoral servants which enable people to do whatever they want better. They cannot be relied upon with certainty to only do good and inspirational things. But whenever they enable doing ill, they only reflect the desires individuals have. If we reformed ourselves, markets could do no harm. In contrast, coercively “reforming” ourselves by law does not eliminate the cause of such harm and so does little to actually stop it. Moreover, the restrictions on markets adopted in the process throw out the amoral servant that allows us to accomplish greater good than achievable via any other known means.

 

Podcast with Peter Klein: How Online Learning Threatens Traditional Universities

Daniel J. Sanchez interviews Peter G. Klein, Executive Director and Carl Menger Research Fellow at the Mises Institute, about the history of higher education and the prospects for online and market-based education, which are the topics of his recent Lewrockwell.com article “Universities to MOOCs: We Will Assimilate You” (“MOOC” stands for Massively Open Online Course.), reprinted at the Mises Academy blog (academy.mises.org/blog/)

New In Our Store: Ron Paul’s New Book

Ron Paul’s new book, The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System, is now available in the Mises Store along side another recent edition: the Ron Paul poster.

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David Gordon on the True Nature of Our Economic System

6540In his latest book review for Mises Daily, David Gordon reviews hunter Lewis’s new book on crony capitalism:

The result of this governmental takeover of the economy has predictably been dire. “Many of the new mega rich of the 1990s and 2000s got their wealth through their government connections. Or by understanding how government worked. This was especially apparent on Wall Street. … This was all the more regrettable because, in a crony capitalist system, the huge gains of the few really do come at the expense of the many. There was an irony here. Perhaps Marx had been right all along. It was just that he was describing a crony capitalist, not a free price system, and his most devoted followers set up a system in the Soviet Union that was cronyist to the core.” (p. 17)

Spitznagel on Austrian Economics-Inspired Investing

The New York Times online today profiles Mark Spitznagel, author of The Dao of Capital: Austrian Investing in a Distorted World:

Still, Mr. Spitznagel’s approach is unusual for a money manager. To invest with him, you have to believe in a philosophy that is grounded in the Austrian school of economics (which originated in the late 19th century in Vienna). The Austrian school does not like government to meddle with any part of the economy: when it does, adherents argue, market distortions abound, creating opportunities for investors who can see them.

When those distortions are present, Austrian-school investors will position themselves to wait out any artificial effect on the market, ready to take advantage when prices readjust.

In Mr. Spitznagel’s recently published book, “The Dao of Capital,” he applies this approach and his Austrian grounding to Chinese Daoist thought — the art of taking a circuitous path to an endpoint. Or, as Mr. Spitznagel says, “Learn to invest in loss.”

Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference 2013

Our colleagues at the Mises Institute of Canada — an independent organization working to promote Austrian economics in the Great White North — is holding its second Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference November 1-2, 2013. David Howden is giving the keynote, and Glenn Fox Predrag Rajsic, and George Bragues will also present.

The Mises View: Mark Thornton on the Government ‘Shutdown.’

Mark Thornton presents a Misesian commentary on why politics is to blame for the impending U.S. government “shutdown,” and how a gold standard could provide real fiscal discipline.

 

The Tom Woods Show Now Online

Senior Fellow Tom Woods’ show is now streaming live online every weekday at noon (Eastern Time). Yesterday, his guest was Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center, and today Woods interviewed Ben Swann of the Truth in Media Project.

Mariotti on the Discovery of the Mises Papers

Steve Mariotti writes in Huffington Post about the discovery of Mises’s personal papers in a Moscow archive. As discussed here, rumors that the Soviets had acquired Mises’s papers from the Nazis after World War II began swirling after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two German scholars described the papers in a 1993 book, and American economist Richard Ebeling visited the archives in 1996 and brought back copies and a detailed report. Guido Hülsmann relies heavily on the archives in his 2007 biography of Mises. It’s an exciting story, and an indication of Mises’s importance in the eyes of his Nazi and Soviet opponents.

What the 1937 Recession Tells Us Today

bubbleIn his Mises Daily article today, Frank Hollenbeck takes a look at the Recession of 1937 and its causes to shed some light on the Fed’s present reluctance to cut back on endless monetary “stimulus.”

By late 1936, The Fed started to get worried, and in March 1937 the chairman of he Fed, Martin Eccles, said “[r]ecovery is now under way, but if it were permitted to become a runaway boom it would be followed by another disastrous crash.”

In December 1936, the central bank began sterilizing the gold inflows so they no longer boosted monetary growth. This was a timid tapering by contemporary standards. Monetary growth slowed from 12 percent to essentially nothing. This was the equivalent of gently tapping on the brakes.

Boom and Bust Reconsidered

Many argue the bigger the boom the greater the bust. More correct is:

The bigger the boom, the greater the mis-direction of production – over consumption, and malinvestment.

How devastating the bust becomes depends more on the degree of interventions which impede recovery. Thus, the greater the interventions in the economy that prevent resource re-allocation and adjustment to malinvestments and consumed capital, the more severe the bust, the slower the recovery and the greater the possibility of a renewed boom-bust.

See:

Hayek’s Law and Rothbard’s Wisdom

Capital in Disequilibrium: Understanding the “Great Recession” and the Potential for Recovery

And

Recessions: The Don’t Do List

Laidler: The Austrians were right

Retired Canadian economist David Laidler is interviewed by Russ Roberts on EconTalk. It is a wide ranging interview where monetarism and the financial crisis are discussed. Laidler at several points, including around the 20 minute mark says that it was the Austrians who got it right in both 1929 and 2005 and the monetarists just missed it both times. He even admits that he can say such things because he is retired and doesn’t have to face the wrath of journal editors for his remarks.

Why Would Somali Militants Attack a Kenyan Shopping Mall?

The U.S. government and the establishment media are in a quandary. How are they to explain the heinous attack on a Kenyan shopping mall by Al Shabab a militant Somali group with links to al-Qaida which left 59 innocent civilians dead and another 175 injured, with the victims ranging in age from  2 to 79 years old? After all, since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, U.S politicians of all stripes have repeatedly hammered home the message that “fundamentalist” Islamists hate us and want to kill us simply because we are free and prosperous. But Kenya is neither. According to the  Index of Freedom in the World that attempts to measure economic, civil, and political liberties, Kenya ranks 91 out of the 123 countries included in the index. As for prosperity, based on the CIA World Factbook 2012, Kenya’s per capita GDP was estimated to be $1,700 per year which ranks 192 out of 225 countries.

Could it be that Al Shabab was telling the truth about the reason for its murderous assault yesterday when it tweeted: “For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now its time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land.” After all 4,000 Kenyans troops invaded and have been occupying part of Somalia since 2011. But then this raises the uncomfortable possibility that terrorist attacks by militant Muslim groups on the U.S and its interests throughout the world were not motivated by envy and hatred of our freedoms and high standard of living. Maybe, just maybe, Ron Paul was right and they were provoked by incessant U.S. meddling in the Middle East since World War 2 through numerous wars and economic embargoes including on food and medicine and the billions of dollars sent to payoff and prop up tyrannical and oppressive regimes that do U.S bidding, e.g., the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt.

Fractional-Reserve Bitcoin Banks?

Writes John Carney at CNBC:

One of the odder claims made aboutBitcoins that you hear from time to time is that there can’t be fractional reserve banking in the electronic currency.

This is supposedly one of the appealing features of Bitcoin because, well, because some libertarian types think that fractional reserve lending is a form of fraud. Murray Rothbard, the great libertarian economist, was probably the most notable proponent of this view.

Irish President: ‘Neoliberals’ like Ludwig von Mises are out to get you

It’s always interesting to see who is invoking the name of Ludwig von Mises to make a political point. A few weeks ago, Peter Beinart was claiming, rather unconvincingly, that Senator Ted Cruz is some kind of devout anti-interventionist because he allegedly read books by Ludwig von Mises as a teenager.

This week, it was the President of Ireland, in a speech claiming that the “neoliberal” bogeyman is lurking in the shadows to convert the world into a playground for plutocrats. “Neoliberal” is a term used internationally, primarily by leftists in the political sphere, and it generally seems to mean: “evil free-market ideology,” although the real-life economic systems that these leftists describe as “neoliberal” are characterized more by corporatism and crony capitalism than by  anything resembling free markets.

For this reason it’s a little odd that the Irish President, Michael Higgins, would say this:

“Neoliberalism has, from the first meetings of Ludwig Von Mises, Hayek and Milton Friedman, been a conscious ideological project” he said, adding that it “does make assumptions about human nature and the good society. Yet these are rarely stated”.

Higgins isn’t trying to speak well of neoliberalism here.

Mises of course wasn’t a “neoliberal” at all. He was simply a liberal in the nineteenth-century tradition. International leftist activists also speak of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as neoliberals. But if Mises, Bush, and Clinton are all neoliberals, then the word as used by people like Higgins, must not have any precise meaning whatsoever.