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New Labour and quantitative easing

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In the course of scheduling a series of articles for The Cobden Centre on the Theory of Money and Credit, I found this quote which seems apposite after our recent spell of “quantitative easing”, the injection of new money into the economy, also known in some circles as inflation of the money supply: A government always finds itself obliged to resort to inflationary measures when it cannot negotiate loans and dare not levy taxes, because it has reason to fear that […]

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A critical error of the Left

As Labour pours another £11bn of poison into the wells, I find myself reflecting on the economics of the Left, people who seem to be lamenting coming “Tory cuts” after so much “Labour investment”. In the first place, Labour plan their own substantial cuts. More to the point, Labour’s spending was funded not by sustainable prosperity, but by one long credit expansion unbacked by real savings, which has now, inevitably, come to an end. Left-wingers’ admirable intentions seem to be […]

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Salamanca, the birthplace of economics

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This post originally appeared on cobdencentre.org. Cobden Centre Chairman, Toby Baxendale, and Corporate Affairs Director, Steve Baker, are this week in Salamanca, Spain for the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s Supporters Summit 2009: One of the great discoveries of the 20th century concerns the origins of economic science in the late middle ages in Spain and Italy. Long before Adam Smith wrote, many scholastics from the 14th through the 17th centuries were writing systematic economic theory. We heard this morning how […]

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Mathematics Versus Economic Logic – Ludwig von Mises

Via Mathematics Versus Economic Logic – Ludwig von Mises – Mises Institute, a fascinating extract from Human Action which concludes: Economics is not about goods and services; it is about the actions of living men. Its goal is not to dwell upon imaginary constructions such as equilibrium. These constructions are only tools of reasoning. The sole task of economics is analysis of the actions of men, is the analysis of processes.

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D-day Commemoration

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On a grey and showery day, skydivers at Weston on the Green commemorated D-day, not by skydiving, but by jumping static line at what for us is a low level: 3500ft. It makes you think. D-day Commemoration – Dornier G92, originally uploaded by stevenjbaker. Sport parachuting is relatively low risk, believe it or not. We go high with modern equipment: it works reliably and there is time to take the reserve if the main fails. No one is, or will […]

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Finishing “Human Action, A treatise on economics”, Volume 1

It seems sometimes that there is little truly new thinking to be done, merely the attempt to catch up with previous dismissals of foolish and destructive ideas: Of course, there will always be individuals and groups of individuals whose intellect is so narrow that they cannot grasp the benefits which social cooperation brings them. There are others whose moral strength and will power are so weak that they cannot resist the temptation to strive for an ephemeral advantage by actions […]

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Reconciling ourselves to capitalism

Reflecting on aspects of the debate about capitalism, I picked this out of Liberalism, the Classical Tradition: To advocate private ownership of the means of production is by no means to maintain that the capitalist social system, based on private property, is perfect. There is no such thing as earthly perfection. Even in the capitalist system something or other, many things, or even everything may not be exactly to the liking of this or that individual. But it is the […]

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Bureaucracy: from Stalin and Trotsky to David Cameron, we all know we loathe it. What is it? In “Bureaucracy”, Ludwig von Mises explains: Bureaucratic management is management bound to comply with detailed rules and regulations fixed by the authority of a superior body. The task of the bureaucrat is to perform what these rules and regulations order him to do. His discretion to act according to his own best conviction is seriously restricted by them. “Bureaucracy” is a slim book […]

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Money, the free market, circulating credit, deflation and sound money

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Via A Golden Way Out of the Monetary Fiasco – Thorsten Polleit – Mises Institute, essential reading for anyone interested in the financial crisis, its causes and a route out (despite its use of the G-word!): The government-controlled monetary regime — the most destructive force set into motion by state interventionism — has finally been blown to pieces. This is the message conveyed by the monetary fiasco in global capital markets, typically referred to as the international credit crisis. However, politicians […]

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Are you an Austrian?

Economics is not a natural science. Unlike physics, you cannot reliably say things like: For a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, P [pressure] and V [volume] are inversely proportional. (That is, halve the volume and the pressure will double.) Unfortunately, many economists and other social scientists think otherwise. Some believe the individual actions of large numbers of humans can be treated mechanistically. They use terms like “aggregate demand” as if the actions and aspirations […]

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