New Issue of the QJAE Out

1 October 2006 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

| Nicolai Foss |

The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics is one of three existing periodicals that are 100% devoted to promoting Austrian economics.  The other two are the Review of Austrian Economics and Advances in Austrian EconomicsQJAE differs by having more of an emphasis on the hardcore Misesian stream of Austrianism. There is, therefore, a focus on the work of a single scholar (Mises) that is rather unusual for an economics journal (this is the one dimension in which the Journal of Post-Keynesian Economics is like the QJAE).

I have read the QJAE since its start nine years ago, and served on its editorial board since the founding of the journal. The most recent issue is, at least to this reader, the best so far.  Three papers stand out. Roderick Long has a truly excellent paper on “Realism and Abstraction in Economics: Aristotle and Mises versus Friedman.” Long explains a subtle but crucial distinction, harking back to Aristotle but perhaps first explicitly formulated by Aquinas, between “precisive” and “non-precisive” abstraction — “… a precisive abstraction is one in which certain actual characteristics are specified as absent, while a nonprecisive abstraction is one in which certain actual characteristics are absent from specification” (p.7). He uses this distinction to bring to light some basic confusions in Milton Friedman’s famous 1953 essay, and to develop insights into the way in which Austrians use “unrealistic” economic models. This is one of the best papers in economic methodology I have read for a long time (and I am also on the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Methodology ;-)).

Hansjörg Klausinger’s “From Mises to Morgenstern: Austrian Economics During the Ständestaat” tells the story of the Austrian School in the 1930s, concentrating in particular on Oskar Morgenstern’s ascendancy as leader of an increasingly “non-Austrian” Austrian community of economists. The article which draws on unpublished letters from Hayek, Mises, Morgenstern, etc. is a fascinating read.

Although most of those who are familiar with Austrian Business Cycle Theory know the expression “Cantillon effects,” very few have any idea of the extent to which Richard Cantillon anticipated Austrian thought on the business cycle. In “Cantillon on the Cause of the Business Cycle,” Mark Thornton provides an excellent overview and discussion of Cantillon’s theory, emphasizing that the “… most striking feature of Cantillon’s theory is that government intervention is the cause of the business cycle” (p. 58). Thornton’s paper is a worthy contribution to the rediscovery of an economic theorist who was certainly on the level of a David Ricardo or an Adam Smith, but who has never really been given sufficient credit for his pioneering work (which preceded that of Smith).

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Austrian Economics, Recommended Reading.

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