If you missed Steve Horwitz’s Reddit AMA last week, fear not! We’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of the highlights for your viewing pleasure. You can check out the whole thing here and here.

What do you make of many in the economics profession and academia, such as many on /r/badeconomics disparagement of Austrian economics as being “dogmatic” or “fundamentalist”? What would you say the most popular misconception of Austrian economics as a discipline is?

I think the most common misconception is that it’s just “ideology” – that it is no different from libertarianism. It isn’t helped when people use the term “austro-libertarianism.” Austrian economics is as old as modern economics, dating to the marginal revolution in 1871, and is a form of value-free social analysis. Unfortunately, too many economists think math and related models are the only kind of “science” or rigorous thinking. They’re wrong as the history of economics and other disciplines demonstrate.

Folks might also want to see this https://www.cato-unbound.org/2012/09/05/steven-horwitz/empirics-austrian-economics

I’ve spent years representing strawman versions of your views. Will you fight me IRL?

Bring it on Horowitz. Bring it on. That extra ‘o’ slows you down in a good fight.

You’re just O shaming me because you want poor people to starve.

Prof. Horwitz, what do you think of Scott Sumner’s claim that monetary policy is the right’s Achilles heel? Given his response, what is the Austrian answer? I am not saying you or Austrians are part of the “right”. I am assuming he meant people who favour tight money in general.

I think it is to the extent, as Cory asked below, free market types are seen as not having an answer to the Great Depression. Monetary theory is also REALLY complex and hard and explaining policy to a lay audience is challenging. Explaning why depressions happen and how to “cure” them, with their focus on money, is indeed one of our biggest challenges.

I tried to break down monetary policy for non-specialists here:


Hi Steve, what do you think of Claudia Goldin’s work on the gender wage gap? Also, do you think that changing the workplace to be more time-flexible, either within the day, or mandating parental leave, would be effective in decreasing the wage gap where it appears?

Everyone who is interested in the gap, or female labor force participation, or anything else about gender and labor markets should read Goldin. I hope she gets a Nobel eventually.

More time flexible schedules would reduce the gap I think as it would enable parents to more equally distribute responsibilities at home. Mandating parental leave won’t, as women will likely still take more and that will affect their wages.

I think the long-run solution is for men and women’s human capital to continue to converge and for the responsibility for child-raising to become more equal. I also think the ability to make real money working from home will help a lot too, as it enables parents to work and deal with kids at the same time, and equalizes the gender playing field.

Best, most accessible, Goldin piece here: http://scholar.harvard.edu/goldin/publications/quiet-revolution-transformed-womens-employment-education-and-family

Is gold money?

In general? Today?
It’s not really money today as no one uses it as commonly accepted medium of exchange, but it can be and should be.

I like all the people asking you for favorite theories/books/authors?

Who/what/which is your least favorite?

Well Robert Reich would be up there as I find him not only consistently wrong but horrifically smug.

Posner’s book on the financial crisis (A Failure of capitalism I think) was truly awful, mostly because he should know better.

And I still find Keynes a struggle to read.

By contrast, I have no problem reading Marx. I love to teach Marx too. He was brilliantly wrong.

You’ve said before that you (and many others at George Mason) don’t consider yourselves Austrian economists but are nevertheless have a bent towards the Austrian tradition. What are you then? An entirely new school of it (Mercatus School of Economics)?

Follow up question: what influence, if any, has Alfred Schutz has had on your economics or philisophy in general?

I think that many of us are now using Virginia Political Economy to recognize the combined influence of Austrian economics and public choice economics. Hayek meets Buchanan. And then throw in the Bloomington School (Ostrom) and you have the framework for understanding human action adn its unintended consequences in the realms: markets (Hayek), politics (Buchanan), communities/civil society (Ostrom).

I like VPE as a label myself, esp. given the influence public choice had on the Ostroms.

Be sure to check out the full AMA over at the AMA reddit and then head over to the Learn Liberty subreddit to check out the overtime question and answer session.