“It was the reading of his book that made an ‘economist’ out of me.” — Ludwig von Mises
“I found it such a fascinating book, so satisfying.” — Friedrich Hayek
“No book since David Ricardo’s Principles has had such a great influence on the development of economics as…” — Knut Wicksell
Yesterday, I made the #1 economics website, “Marginal Revolution”. Here’s the story:
Last week, Tyler Cowen announced on his popular website, that he had published a book called “GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist in the World and Why It Matters.” See GOAT: Who is the greatest economist of all time and why does it matter? (goatgreatesteconomistofalltime.ai)
GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time,” and students use the term to talk about their favorite sports figure.
Tyler’s list includes Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.
Polling My Students
Several years ago, in my college class “Modern Political Economy,” I did a survey among my Chapman students, asking them to name their favorite economist. Here was the breakdown:
- Adam Smith — 16
- Milton Friedman — 4
- J. B. Say — 3
- Karl Marx — 3
- John Maynard Keynes — 2
- F. A. Hayek — 1
- Carl Menger — 1
- John Stuart Mill — 1
- Joseph Schumpeter — 1
- Muhammad Yunus — 1
- Robert Shiller — 1
- Mark Skousen — 1 (naturally this student got an A+!)
Adam Smith as a Hero
I was not surprised that Adam Smith was far and away the most popular choice, since the Scottish economist is the heroic figure in my book, “The Making of Modern Economics.”
His “system of natural liberty” consists of three pillars: economic freedom, competitive markets and justice (the rule of law). Studies have shown that nations that adopt these three governing principles have the highest level of prosperity. See www.freetheworld.com for more information.
Smith was also highly influential, which qualifies him as both a great economist and the protagonist in my history of economics.
But I actually chose a different economist to win the prize as “Greatest of all Time” (GOAT) economist. Here’s why:
My Paper is Highlighted on Tyler Cowen’s ‘Marginal Revolution’ Website
Earlier this year, I wrote a paper for a Festschrift honoring Spanish Professor Jesus Huerto de Soto entitled “The Greatest Economist Who Ever Lived.”
Yesterday, Tyler highlighted my paper on his marginalrevolution.com website to see who I thought deserved to be the GOAT in economics.
You can read an updated version of my paper here.
At the beginning of the article, I highlight quotes from three economists, all talking about one book that changed their lives. It was Carl Menger’s “Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre,” published in 1871 in Vienna, Austria. It was not translated into English as “Principles of Economics” until 1950.
It was with this book that the Austrian School was born and made economics a real science. After Menger wrote his magnum opus, he became a distinguished professor at the University of Vienna. For several years, he taught the crown prince of Austria and was a man of great influence. By the turn of the century, the Austrians were considered the most dominant school in economics and were the first to take on the Marxists. Menger died in 1921, deeply pessimistic about the future of Europe after World War I.
Carl Menger (1840-1921) and his followers enhanced Adam Smith’s positive vision of the capitalist system. In many ways, Menger was a revolutionary discoverer of both macroeconomics (through his time structure of production) and microeconomics (subjective demand and marginal analysis).
Therefore, I concluded that Carl Menger deserves to be considered the greatest economist who ever lived.
I dedicated my own book, “The Structure of Production” (New York University Press, 1990), to Menger. It was Menger who inspired my development of gross output (GO), a measure of spending at all stages of production that the government adopted in 2014.
Furthermore, Menger was a financial reporter who covered the stock market in Vienna, and it is there that he discovered that the prices of stocks and all goods and services are based on only a small number of buyers and sellers. Thus, he discovered the principle of marginal analysis that forms the basis of economic science today.
Menger also developed a better way to measure the standard of living in a country. The traditional approach is to calculate the average wage or income level. But Menger took a different route — he looked at the quantity, quality and variety of goods and services bought by consumers to determine a person’s or a country’s well-being.
I use this approach when I teach economics to students, and it’s an eye-opener. For example, many economists claim that real wages for the average American have stagnated over the past 30 years.
Yet, if you look at the quantity, quality and variety of goods and services over the past 30 years, it is clear that almost everyone’s living standards have increased dramatically.
I also use the Austrian theory of the business cycle in my forecasts about the economy and the stock market, based on the works of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and other followers of Menger. They taught that easy-money policies are inflationary and lead to the boom-bust cycle in the economy and in the stock market.
If you want to know more about Menger and Austrian economics, let me suggest that you read two books.
First, my book “A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street: Austrian Economics for Investors” has a chapter on each Austrian economist, including Menger, Mises, Hayek, Schumpeter and Rothbard. You can download it for free here.
Or you can purchase a copy for only $20 postpaid at www.skousenbooks.com.
Second, check out my story of the great economic thinkers. My book “The Making of Modern Economics” includes three chapters on the Austrians — Menger, Mises, Hayek and Schumpeter, among others. It includes pictures and lots of lively anecdotes. The price is only $35 at www.skousenbooks.com/.
Upcoming Appearances in the Next Two Weeks
Orlando Money Show, October 29-31, Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate, Florida: This Sunday, Oct. 29, I’ll be the keynote speaker at the Orlando MoneyShow. My topic is “Adam Smith Makes Two Prophecies about America: One Bullish and One Bearish,” followed by a breakout session, “The Fed Disaster Plan: Beating Tight Money in 2023 with My Five Favorite Growth and Income Investments.” Other speakers include Charles Payne (Fox Business), Jon and Pete Najarian (CNBC), Steve Moore, George Gilder, Bryan Perry and Dave Phillips. My subscribers can get 20% off the registration at www.moneyshow.com, or by calling 1-800-970-4355. Be sure to reference my discount code SPKR20. See you on Sunday, Oct. 29!
New Orleans Investment Conference, Nov. 1-4, Riverside Hilton Hotel: I always look forward to the granddaddy of investment conferences, designed especially for gold bugs. I’ve attended every year since 1976. New Orleans is my favorite town to visit, with great jazz, distinct culture, the world’s best restaurants… and a great time to meet with my subscribers.
Presenters at this year’s event include keynote speaker Matt Taibbi. He was one of the most popular speakers at FreedomFest in Memphis this year, with his expose of Twitter censorship and the future of free speech on social media. Other speakers include Peter Schiff, Jim Stack, Brien Lundin, Robert Prechter, Mary Anne and Pamela Aden, Rick Rule, Adrian Day, Jim Rickards and the Real Estate Guys Robert Helms and Russ Gray.
To sign up, go to this link or call 1-800-649-8411 and be sure to mention you are a Investor Cafe subscriber.
Hillsdale College, “Great Economists” Series, Nov. 5-8: I’ve lectured many times at Hillsdale College, the foremost free-market college in the country. This time I’ll be speaking on “The Genius of Adam Smith” on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 4 pm. Other speakers include Bruce Caldwell on Friedrich Hayek, Ben Powell on Karl Marx, Jeff Tucker on Ludwig von Mises, Randy Holcombe on James Buchanan and Nicholas Wapshott on Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson. For more information, email email@example.com, or call 517-607-2381. This series is open to the public.
Good investing, AEIOU,
You Blew It!
Are We Headed for Another 1987-style Stock Market Crash?
“Owners of sound securities should never panic.” — J. Paul Getty
Are we headed for a bear market? It is possible, given the Fed’s aggressive tight-money policy. Not only has the Fed raised interest rates at a rapid rate, but the broad-based money supply has stopped growing completely. This could spell trouble down the road, and maybe even a recession in 2024 — an important election year. It could also result in a major bear market.
Instability in China and an expanding war zone in the Middle East and Ukraine could also lead to a global recession.
As a result of the Fed’s tight money policies, monetarist Steve Hanke is predicting another “Black Monday” crash. I have a great deal of respect for Professor Hanke, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, but I think he’s mistaken this time around. I can see the possibility of a bear market, but not another crash a la 1987, when the market fell by 23% in a day.
Why? Government intervention.
In response to the 1987 crash, the New York-based stock exchanges imposed “circuit breakers.” U.S. regulations have three levels of circuit breakers, which are set to halt trading when the S&P 500 Index drops by 7%, 13% and 20%. That makes it almost impossible to have an old-style panic.
Even more importantly, the federal government has established a “plunge protection team” (officially the Working Group on Financial Markets) that can intervene at any time when Wall Street has a turn for the worse. It has the emergency power to buy government securities, the U.S. dollar and even stock market futures to stop the hemorrhaging.
Since 1987, we’ve had a variety of bear markets but no crash equal to the one on October 19, 1987. Even in the fall of 2008, the stock market fell by sometimes 5% in one day, but it never fell by 23% as it did in 1987. Short of a nuclear war, I don’t see it happening.