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Book part
Publication date: 19 February 2020

Richard Sturn

This chapter discusses the evolution of German views on public debt 1850–1920, referring to three strands of secondary literature: (1) German retrospectives on public…

Abstract

This chapter discusses the evolution of German views on public debt 1850–1920, referring to three strands of secondary literature: (1) German retrospectives on public finance, (2) the historical literature with a public choice perspective, and (3) contributions to public/constitutional law, mainly referring to Lorenz von Stein. The skeptic view of public debt endorsed by authors of the second half of the period is shown to be related to politico-economic issues of state agency combined with new state functions, rather than to the rejection of Dietzel’s Proto-Keynesian macroeconomic reasoning.

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Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology: Including a Symposium on Public Finance in the History of Economic Thought
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-699-5

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Book part
Publication date: 17 October 2014

Richard E. Wagner

This paper is a keynote address prepared for a conference on “Entangled Political Economy” sponsored by the Wirth Institute. In keeping with the conventions of such an…

Abstract

This paper is a keynote address prepared for a conference on “Entangled Political Economy” sponsored by the Wirth Institute. In keeping with the conventions of such an address, I look both backward and forward, while placing more emphasis on looking forward. In looking backward, I compare and contrast two orientations toward political economy: additive and entangled. In looking forward, I explore some of the analytical challenges that confront efforts to pursue a vision of entangled political economy. While these challenges are substantive in character, those efforts necessarily rest on methodological presumptions. Accordingly, the paper opens by reviewing some of those methodological presumptions before turning to the substantive articulations and challenges.

Book part
Publication date: 3 December 2018

David J. Hebert

Traditional public choice analysis implicitly views political outcomes as the intention of a single-minded person. This view is seriously misguided. Rather than viewing…

Abstract

Traditional public choice analysis implicitly views political outcomes as the intention of a single-minded person. This view is seriously misguided. Rather than viewing politics as being done by one person or a group of persons acting in concert, this chapter presents an Austrian economist’s thoughts on what an Austrian theory of public choice would look like. Particular attention is paid to the emergent, rather than additive, quality that political outcomes exhibit.

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Entangled Political Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-102-2

Book part
Publication date: 3 August 2015

James Caton and Richard E. Wagner

Traditional Austrian cycle theory starts from general equilibrium and explains how an expansion of bank credit unmatched by an expansion of saving can create a cycle of…

Abstract

Traditional Austrian cycle theory starts from general equilibrium and explains how an expansion of bank credit unmatched by an expansion of saving can create a cycle of boom-and-bust, and with the bust followed by restoration of normality. In contrast, this paper offers a non-equilibrium reformulation of those earlier Austrian insights, which expands and refocuses the analytical agenda of macro theory. Our key analytical feature is the conceptualization of a macro economy as constituted through an open-ended ecology of plans. Within this framework, macro variables are not primitives but are derivative from micro-level interaction. In turn, the computation of optimizing actions is beset with undecidability. The theory of entrepreneurial choice that is suitable for this analytical framework is based on rule-following or algorithmic choice and not on computational maximization. What results is a macro ecology, the internal operation of which entails natural volatility. What are called policy actions, moreover, operate inside and not outside the ecology, and can create induce volatility within the ecology.

Book part
Publication date: 2 December 2021

Richard E. Wagner

I have been asked to explore how James Buchanan’s work on public finance and constitutional political economy might have emerged out of themes present in Frank Knight’s…

Abstract

I have been asked to explore how James Buchanan’s work on public finance and constitutional political economy might have emerged out of themes present in Frank Knight’s oeuvre, especially his Risk Uncertainty, and Profit. Buchanan’s body of work has inspired the development of a style of political economy sometimes described as Virginia or Constitutional Political Economy to distinguish it from the Chicago Political Economy with which George Stigler is associated, and with Stigler and Buchanan both being students of Knight. While Buchanan, unlike Stigler, did not write his dissertation under Knight’s supervision, this is a minor distinction because Buchanan regarded Knight as his de facto supervisor even though Roy Blough was his de jure supervisor. The author explains how Knight’s scholarly oeuvre can in large measure be detected in Buchanan’s effort to fashion an alternative approach to public finance and to articulate the field of study now called constitutional political economy.

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Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology: Including a Symposium on Frank Knight's Risk, Uncertainty and Profit at 100
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-149-5

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Book part
Publication date: 17 October 2017

Ion Sterpan and Richard E. Wagner

Political economy is a term in wide use and has been for centuries. Yet standard economic theory reduces politics to ethics or economics. This reduction is enabled by the…

Abstract

Political economy is a term in wide use and has been for centuries. Yet standard economic theory reduces politics to ethics or economics. This reduction is enabled by the presumption of closed choice data or given utility and cost functions. In this conceptual framework, the political vanishes into an activity of preference satisfaction according to a welfare function (ethics) or into trade (economics). To bring the political back to life within a theory of political economy requires that closed schemes of thought be replaced by open schemes. The ways in which individuals react to the indeterminacy of their subjective choice data, in innocuous small-scale settings as well as in situations of dramatic exception to constitutional rules, separates them into leaders and followers. Followership creates an opportunity for political enterprise at the social level (enterprise in rules) and at the subjective level (enterprise in visions of options, and hence preferences). At both levels the political comes to the fore of political economy as an answer to the “challenge of exception.” Much of our inspiration for this argument traces to the work of Friedrich Wieser, Carl Schmitt, and Vincent Ostrom.

Book part
Publication date: 3 August 2015

Vipin P. Veetil and Richard E. Wagner

Standard macro theories have the same analytical structure as their micro counterparts. Where micro theories work with equilibrium between supply and demand for particular…

Abstract

Standard macro theories have the same analytical structure as their micro counterparts. Where micro theories work with equilibrium between supply and demand for particular products, macro theories work with equilibrium applied to aggregates of products. This common approach treats the micro–macro relationship as scalable, with macro variables being aggregations over micro variables. In contrast, we pursue a systems-theoretic approach to the micro–macro relationship. This relationship is not scalable and rather entails a disjunction between micro- and macro-levels of theory. While micro phenomena are still susceptible to choice-theoretic analysis, macro phenomena are products of ecological interaction and so entail emergent phenomena. Our alternative approach treats macro theory as a form of systems theory where the behavior of the system has properties that are not reducible to properties of the individual elements within that system. Besides sketching this alternative approach, we examine some of the different insights this approach offers into such topics as unemployment and stabilization.

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New Thinking in Austrian Political Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-137-8

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Book part
Publication date: 17 October 2017

Abstract

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The Austrian and Bloomington Schools of Political Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-843-7

Book part
Publication date: 10 August 2010

Richard E. Wagner

The logic of economic inquiry requires two distinct research programs. One program treats economic life in terms of invariant formal categories across time and place. The…

Abstract

The logic of economic inquiry requires two distinct research programs. One program treats economic life in terms of invariant formal categories across time and place. The other program treats the continual generation of novelty and turbulence through time and human interaction. These programs are not commensurable: one cannot be reduced to the other. The former program must be conveyed by a theory of equilibrium; the latter program requires a process-based theory of emergent phenomena. Roy Weintraub articulated a neo-Walrasian research program in his General Equilibrium Analysis, and here I sketch a complementary neo-Mengerian program. In presenting this sketch, I also explain that needless analytical confusion and antagonism can result from a failure to recognize that economic analysis requires two distinct research programs. As a historical side-bar, Carl Menger probably recognized this situation, as evidenced by his correspondence with Léon Walras.

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What is so Austrian about Austrian Economics?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-261-7

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