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During the last years of his life, the mathematician Karl Menger worked on a biography of his father, the economist and founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl…
During the last years of his life, the mathematician Karl Menger worked on a biography of his father, the economist and founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl Menger. The younger Menger never finished the work. While working in the Menger collections at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, we discovered draft chapters of the biography, a valuable source of information given that relatively little is known about Carl Menger’s life nearly a hundred years after his death. The unfinished biography covers Carl Menger’s family background and his life through early 1889. In this chapter, the authors discuss the biography and the most valuable new insights it provides into Carl Menger’s life, including Carl Menger’s family, his childhood, his student years, his time working as a journalist and newspaper editor, his early scientific career, and his relationship with Crown Prince Rudolf.
In his article “Geld” of 1909 Menger introduces a principal distinction between “outer exchange value of money” (purchasing power as measured by index numbers) and “inner…
In his article “Geld” of 1909 Menger introduces a principal distinction between “outer exchange value of money” (purchasing power as measured by index numbers) and “inner exchange value of money,” which is affected solely “by influences originating on the side of money,” not on the side of the other goods. Menger chooses constancy of the inner value as policy goal to be achieved by appropriately regulating the quantity of money. In a growing economy, the general price level would have a declining tendency if the money supply were kept constant – a consequence which Menger does not make explicit, and even appears not to have been aware of. There is a fundamental inconsistency in his writings, since in his essays on the currency reform of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy of 1892 Menger warned against undesired consequences of deflation and inflation. Menger’s extensive discussion on how effects on purchasing power on the side of goods could be separated from those attributable to the side of money is referred in the light of then available monetary and price statistics. The inconsistency remains enigmatic. The last part of the present contribution gives a brief overview on how authors of later generations of the Austrian School (Wieser, Mises, Schumpeter, and Hayek), who coined the term “neutrality of money” for Menger’s constancy postulate followed or deviated from Menger’s concepts of the value of money.
In the development of the science of economics, two periods of major importance can be distinguished — the middle of the eighteenth century and the last 30 years of the nineteenth century. In the former period, the heyday of the Enlightenment, it was recognised that the domain of production, distribution and market exchange should be studied as an important aspect of the social order. In that short period the foundations were laid for a more or less autonomous science of economics. It took about a century, however, to establish economics as a separate science with its own institutions: its own departments in the universities, its own language, its own journals, its own congresses, its own standards to distinguish the initiates from the laymen. That tour de force was accomplished in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. It was the introduction of marginalism that gave economics its special modern flavour. Carl Menger can justly be seen as one of the founding fathers of economics in its twentieth‐century garb.
Considers a Wirkungsgeschichte of Hermann Heinrich Gossen, focusing on the reactions of the three stars of the Marginal Revolution: William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras and…
Considers a Wirkungsgeschichte of Hermann Heinrich Gossen, focusing on the reactions of the three stars of the Marginal Revolution: William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras and Carl Menger. Although Hermann Heinrich Gossen is today known as one of the forerunners of the Marginal Revolution, it was only in 1879 that Jevons mentioned him in the second edition of the Theory of Political Economy, which contributed greatly toward making Gossen’s name known among English‐speaking readers. Later, in 1885, Walras wrote a famous article in the Journal des Economistes, entitled “Un économiste inconnu: Hermann‐Henri Gossen”. Investigates a Wirkungsgeschichte of Gossen, an ignored German mathematical economist.
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical…
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical approach to monopoly until the 1930s. Despite its impeccable doctrinal pedigree and lengthy dominance, the theory abruptly disappeared from the mainstream neoclassical literature after the Monopolistic Competition Revolution, to be revived and reformulated after World War II by Ludwig von Mises. The present paper describes the theory as it was offered in its most sophisticated pre‐war form by American economist Vernon A. Mund, who published an unjustifiably neglected volume on monopoly theory that appeared in the same year as the classic works by Joan Robinson and Edward Chamberlain. This paper then attempts to draw out the critical implications of Mund’s formulation of the theory for the current neoclassical orthodoxy in monopoly and competition theory, including the elasticity of demand curves facing individual producers under competition, the time perspectives that are most relevant in analyzing the pricing process, the proper role of long‐run equilibrium in this analysis, and the misapplication of the marginal revenue and marginal cost concepts. Finally, the paper suggests a number of reasons why the theory was swept aside in the aftermath of the Chamberlain/Robinson Revolution with almost no resistance from its most prominent exponents.
Austrian economist Ludwig Mises’s central role in the socialist calculation debates has been consensually acknowledged since the early 1920s. Yet, only recently Nemeth…
Austrian economist Ludwig Mises’s central role in the socialist calculation debates has been consensually acknowledged since the early 1920s. Yet, only recently Nemeth, O’Neill, Uebel, and others have drawn particular attention to Mises’s encounter with logical empiricist Otto Neurath. Despite several surprising agreements, Neurath and Mises certainly provide different answers to the questions “what is meant by rational economic theory” (Neurath) and whether “socialism is the abolition of rational economy” (Mises). Previous accounts and evaluations of the exchange between Neurath and Mises suffer from attaching little regard to their idiosyncratic uses of the term “rational.” The paper at hand reconstructs and critically compares the different conceptions of rationality defended by Neurath and Mises. The author presents two different resolutions to a detected tension in Mises’s deliberations on rationality: the first is implicit in Neurath’s, O’Neill’s, and Salerno’s reading of Mises and faces several interpretational problems; the author proposes a divergent interpretation. Based on the reconstructions of Neurath’s and Mises’s conceptions of rationality, the author suggests some implications with respect to Viennese Late Enlightenment and the socialist calculation debates.
The goal of this paper is to analyze the views of Frank Knight and Ludwig von Mises on the topic of uncertainty and how it influences the theory of individual…
The goal of this paper is to analyze the views of Frank Knight and Ludwig von Mises on the topic of uncertainty and how it influences the theory of individual decision-making and to trace out the implications of the same for the theories of entrepreneurship, equilibrium, and the firm. The paper adopts a historical approach in its analysis of the theory of uncertainty, with an extended discussion of the primary writings of Knight and Mises on this topic. It then uses the insights gleaned from this discussion in order to address issues and topics that have found a prominent place in the modern literature on entrepreneurship, equilibrium, and the firm that draws its inspiration from the Austrian School. The paper offers three main findings: in the realm of entrepreneurship it argues that there can be no theory of the entrepreneur without the concept of uncertainty provided by Knight and Mises, whereas with regard to the theory of equilibrium it focuses on highlighting the concept of an equilibrium with error prevalent in the Austrian tradition and on the implications that an explicit introduction of uncertainty has for the existence of a process of equilibration that pushes the economy toward a state of general equilibrium in real time. As regards the theory of the firm we find that a proper understanding of uncertainty ultimately reverses the direction of any causal explanation of economic organization, making the firm an outcome of dealing with uncertainty rather than a means to do so.
This paper examines William Stanley Jevons’s approach to human “improvement” in comparison with that of Carl Menger. In Jevons’s view, people are relatively static when…
This paper examines William Stanley Jevons’s approach to human “improvement” in comparison with that of Carl Menger. In Jevons’s view, people are relatively static when left to their own devices. Thus, to “attack” the “citadel of poverty” they must be improved by those who know what is “best” for them. Menger’s view of people as planners, by contrast, is one in which people are capable of improving themselves. Jevons was a social reformer who placed great faith in education, and painful training and instruction, broadly defined, as key mechanisms of reform. Less frequently acknowledged but no less important, Menger also foresaw “the improvement of mankind” from within, as consumers came to better understand how best to attain their wants and needs over time.