Prof. Salter is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Rawls College of Business, and the Comparative Economics Research Fellow with the Free Market Institute, at Texas Tech University. Salter was formerly an Assistant Professor of Economics at Berry College.
He earned his Ph.D. from George Mason University in May 2014. Alexander’s research interests include the political economy of central banking, NGDP targeting, and free (laissez-faire) banking. He is also interested in political economy in the tradition of the Virginia School, focusing on topics such as property rights, self-governance, federalism, and the rule of law. Alexander’s research has been published, or is forthcoming, in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, the Journal of Financial Services Research, and the American Political Science Review, and his popular writing has been featured in outlets such as RealClearPolitics and U.S. News and World Report.
Why are Western countries like the United States and Germany so much richer today than other countries around the world? We desperately need an answer to this question — both to help us understand the human condition and to help us find practical steps we can take to alleviate global poverty.One explanation for the success of the West is, in a word, liberty. Over the last few hundred years, classical liberal ideas such as the rights of man and the rule of law put constraints on European governments’ power, which resulted in a strong protection of private property rights. This resulted
The economic way of thinking teaches us to look beyond the “good intentions” of government policy. Instead it brings into focus the unintended effects of those policies — effects that otherwise might elude us. Suppose the public demands a higher minimum wage to benefit the working poor. The law is passed, workers earn a higher wage, and the public erroneously concludes that the law has unambiguously promoted human welfare. They are focusing only on the obvious effects of the law, and ignoring the secondary, often hidden and unintentional, effects. The workers who are made better off by
My last two posts covered the origins of money. I discussed the two leading theories of why money exists: the emergent theory, which holds that money is a spontaneous product of exchange relationships, and the chartalist theory, which holds that money is a “creature of the state,” arising because strong groups imposed debt obligations on weak groups. It turns out that much chartalist history is good and valid, but as a theory, it cannot actually explain what it purports to. Within well-defined social groups, gift exchange and credit systems work great. But to facilitate exchange with the Other
If you’re a student of economics, you probably know what money is and why it’s useful. Money is a medium of exchange – it’s the good we use to buy all other goods. And it’s useful because it’s fungible – it can easily be used for multiple purposes, which helps us evaluate tradeoffs between various lines of production and consumption. But where does money come from? Why does it exist? There are two main schools of thought here. The first school of thought, held by most economists and derived from Carl Menger’s classic article “The Origins of Money”, is that money is an
In a previous post, I discussed the two leading schools of thought on the origins of money. The spontaneous order theorists argue money emerges from a process of exchange. The chartalists argue money arises due to the coercive imposition of debt obligations (political power). Which school is right? As Will Luther and I argue in a scholarly paper, these schools frequently talk past each other. The chartalists point to specific details of history, while the emergent order theorists abstract from this to construct a social scientific narrative. Elements of both accounts — cooperation and conflict,
Many classical liberals are skeptical of religion because they are skeptical of all claims of power. And what power could be more indefensible than an invisible deity who hands down a set of moral demands, some of which many intelligent and sincere people have interpreted as prima facie illiberal, that are not open to question? Furthermore, many religious rules can seem like they come from power-seeking men, not a loving and just God. For those who care about human freedom, many religious traditions can seem oppressive in a similar manner to the state. I do not agree with this critique. The problem
In my last post, I discussed several important moral features of classical liberalism; this time, I want to discuss classical liberalism as a research program. For thinkers like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, classical liberalism was first and foremost something to be studied and understood. The basic observation guiding their thinking is that the social world is incredibly complex yet also orderly. Furthermore, that order does not appear to be the product of some centralized coordinating authority. “Coordination without command” is the starting point of classical liberalism: how millions
What is the role of human freedom in morality? It’s a question I’ve been pondering and researching since graduate school. C.S. Lewis once explained the different aspects of morality by using the metaphor of a flotilla. Every ship must be well run on its own, but each must also coordinate with all the others so that they avoid collisions and stay in formation. Finally, the fleet must be set on a destination, which constitutes the purpose of their journey. This is a helpful way to think about morality regarding self, others, and our ultimate end. The personal aspect of morality — which might
If you were looking for serious policy discussion, the 2016 election has been a massive disappointment. As revealed during the debates and in their many public statements, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has a plan for addressing the public sector’s biggest problem: government has become so large that it is unmanageable and ineffective. In 1930, total government expenditure was 10% of GDP. Of that, approximately 3% was federal spending, and 7% was state and local spending. Today, government expenditure is about 40% of GDP, with 25% of that spending federal, and the remaining 15% state
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