Prices and Production is a book of great significance. The historic significance of this book stems mainly from the fact that it established Austrian Business cycle theory as the leading explanation of the Great Depression prior to the publication of Keynes' General Theory. Prices and Production is the written form of lectures that Hayek delivered in early 1931. When Hayek returned to Vienna he ran into Oscar Morgenstern in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. They joked about how "We are going to enter the office, you are going to look through your mail, and you will find a letter inviting you to be a professor at the London School of Economics". They entered the office and found a letter offering Hayek the position of Tooke Professor of Economic Science and Statistics at the LSE.
Hayek then published his Monetary Theory of the Trade Cycle in 1933, which is also reproduced in this book. Several years later professional opinion shifted in favor of JM Keynes. The shift from Hayek to Keynes is an interesting episode in the history of economic thought. Both Keynes and Hayek recognized that the business cycle originates in capital markets. Hayek blamed governmental intervention in capital markets. Keynes blamed investors in capital markets. Keynes also noted that Hayek influenced him by showing the significance of money in capitalism: "I am in full agreement, also, with Dr. Hayek's rebuttal of John Stuart Mill's well-known dictum that 'there cannot, in short, be intrinsically a more insignificant thing, in the economy of society, than money (JM Keynes 1931). Keynes won over professional opinion, at least for the mid twentieth century, but Hayek's influence was still great. Decades later the Nobel Prize Committee recognized the importance of Hayek work on business cycles by awarding him the Nobel Prize in Economics for Prices and Production.
The theoretical significance of this book is in how it developed the idea of Knut Wicksell and Ludwig von Mises on money and capital further. According to this theory artificially low interest rates move investment in the direction of longer term projects. These projects are well out of sync with actual consumer demands through time, so these projects latter prove to be uneconomic and unfeasible. Critics of Hayek often characterize his theory as an over-investment theory. In reality Hayek explains the business cycle in terms of mal-investment rather than over investment.
Some scholars continue to develop and promote the Mises-Hayek theory of business cycles. Of course, most economists now think in terms of New Keynesian/Monetarist explanations of the business cycle. But the validity of ideas is not determined by popularity among professionals. The case for Austrian Business Cycle Theory is ignored rather than disproven, so the reprinting of Prices and Production constitutes a good opportunity. Economists should reconsider Hayek's work on cycles, especially during this time of economic crisis. While it seems unlikely that most economists will take this opportunity anytime soon, the reprinting of Hayek's work will keep his ideas available for some time.