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Ludwig Von Mises: A Primer (Institute of Economic Affairs: Occasional Papers) Paperback – 19 Apr 2010
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About the Author
Eamonn Butler is director and cofounder of the Adam Smith Institute think tank, and a broadcaster on economic and social issues. He is the author of Adam Smith--A Primer and Public Choice--A Primer. Steven Baker is a British Conservative Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wycombe. He is a founding member and corporate affairs director of the Cobden Centre, an educational charity promoting honest money.
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Mr Butler outlines a number of his major contributions, as follows:
- Economics is about individuals, and their motives and actions rather than perceived measures of aggregates.
- Money as an economic good itself rather than a measure of worth. In particular, Mises` influential work "The Theory of Money & Credit" is appraised on this subject.
- The Business Cycle and its ups & downs, as well as the curse of mistaken over-investment - "malinvestment". Mises cooperated extensively with Hayek on this subject and Hayek was to win a Nobel Prize in Economics shortly after Mises` death for their joint efforts in this area.
- Capital, interest & time. Mises provided a better understanding of these aspects and how individuals treat them. Butler covers the relevance of Mises` work on business cycles and interest to recent events in the world economy.
- Socialism and its impossibility without the existence of proper markets and pricing signals. Now this is taken for granted worldwide (and particularly in Poland post 1989) but in the 1920s to 40s was considered controversial as central planning appeared to offer an alternative.
This book is only just over a 100 pages and it covers a lot of ground at a brisk pace but Mr Butler makes it very digestible. It certainly succeeded in whetting my appetite for more and accordingly I have ordered several of the many books covered in the text.
Bad points: This is not an academic or intellectual work because Butler offers no critical assessment of von Mises' thought. Indeed, his style is somewhat sycophantic and frequently adopts the tone of unquestioning hero-worship. The book contains only two references to authors other than von Mises (save Butler himself, whom he cites several times!) One of those two references is to Wealth of Nations.
I was already tentatively an Austrian thinker before reading this book. I came away from it largely agreeing with von Mises but with a negative view of Butler as a writer.