Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Austrian Economists Blog Changes its Name

The Austrian Economists” are changing their Blog Name to “Coordination Problem

From 1st January 2010, the new name and url address are HERE:

Lost Legacy is book-marked (do we still use that term?) to The Austrian Economists, though there has been little, if any, cross posting over the years. So traffic is mainly one-way – me visiting them.

New Thinking for a New Decade

As of January 1, 2010, we are changing our name to "Coordination Problem". This name change is symbolic as well as substantive. The term "Austrian economics" has become as much a hindrance to the advancement of thought as a convenient shorthand to signal certain methodological and analytical presumptions. We started this blog with a clear purpose to emphasize ongoing research in the scientific literature, and developments in higher education as related to economics and political economy. As a group we are committed to methodological individualism, market process theory, institutional analysis, and spontaneous order theorizing. And while we do not shy away from policy discussions, we do not identify with any political party or specific political movement.

As an experiment, over the past six months we have been tracking the use of the term Austrian economics in the news and in the blogosphere. Less systematically, we have also been listening carefully to the use of the term among fellow professional economists and what they think the label means. The results do not fit our intention. Google alert, for example, inevitably points to financial advice or libertarian politics, rarely to the research paradigm of F. A. Hayek, never to the scholarship of Israel Kirzner. Mises is often mentioned, but Mises the ideological symbol, not Mises the analytical economist. The "Austrian" theory of the business cycle is mentioned, but only in relationship to anti-fed politics and hard money advocacy, and never as an ongoing research program among professional economists…

… Why "Coordination Problem"? The answer to this question has its origins in the seminal work of the 1970s development of market process theory and Gerald O'Driscoll's brilliant depiction of F. A. Hayek's research program in Economics as a Coordination Problem. The contributors to this blog are convinced that O'Driscoll put his finger on the central unifying theme in Hayek's long and diverse research career. But our intent goes well beyond Hayek studies, we are convinced that Mises and Hayek identified in the 1930s through the 1950s the central elements of sound economic and social analysis: the problem of economic calculation and the division of knowledge; the cultural and institutional conditions which make possible social cooperation under the division of labor; and the arranging (and re-arranging due to changing circumstances) of heterogeneous and multi-specific capital goods into a coherent production plan that must mesh with diverse consumer demands. The role of money, interest, and prices in market analysis all point back to the central theme of the discipline --- the coordination of economic activities through time that results in the "wealth of nations".

As we head into a new decade in a new century, we believe it is time to think anew the best way to communicate the animating ideas of our shared research and teaching interests. Adam Smith represented the Scottish Enlightenment, but not all economists who followed Smith's intellectual path were "Scottish"; and the same is true we contend for those following in the intellectual footsteps of Menger, Mises and Hayek who represented the great contributions of the Austrian school of economics.

I have always been luke-warm, even frosty, to the term “Austrian Economics”, having no affinity to what it represents. I read Mises’s Human Action one summer a while back and (no offfence meant) I can’t honestly remember much about it.

I pick up more positively to the idea of the “Coordination Problem” and can see (almost) what they mean by saying: ‘the coordination of economic activities through time that results in the "wealth of nations".’

While Adam Smith was a Scottish economist I have never taken it to indicate that this made sympathizers with his work part of the Scottish community.

I have several books in my library that describe him in their titles as an “English economist”, which is one of the burdens that our bigger island partner imposes on we Scots, followed, often it should be said, by former colonies (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa – even the USA and Canada), the people of which invariably refer to us as “English” and living in England.

A famous US movie star visting Edinburgh at our annual Festival, opened her act with the lines: ‘It’s wonderful to be back in England at the Edinburgh Festival’, to gasps of derision from the audience.

I can see the irrelevance of the title “Austrian Economics” and commend the bold and overdue decision of Peter Boetkke and colleagues to make their purpose as more relevant beyond their immediate (large) circle of readers.

I shall certainly change my ‘favourites’ list and update the name on my blogroll to "Coordination Problem" at the url:



Blogger Fearsome Pirate said...

"Austrian Economics" is just a name. It's stuck. Doubt it's going anywhere.

11:37 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thanks for your observation.

It's an empirical question, isn't it. It either 'sticks' or fades.

Predictions are opinions tested by events.


9:32 am  
Blogger Guillermo W. Méndez said...

Well said Gavin!!!

12:45 am  

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