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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12362/faculty-spotlight-interview-jesus-huerta-de-soto/

Faculty Spotlight Interview: Jesús Huerta de Soto

April 2, 2010 by

Jesus Huerta de SotoJesús Huerta de Soto, Professor of Political Economy at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain, is Spain’s leading Austrian economist. As an author, translator, publisher, and teacher, he also ranks among the world’s most active ambassadors for classical liberalism. He is the author of a Spanish work on economic calculation and the Austrian method, a treatise on money and banking, the introduction to the new Spanish edition of Human Action, and articles in monetary and history of thought journals in four languages, including The Review of Austrian Economics.

How and when did you come about Austrian economics?
When I was 16 years old, I took a very strong liking to economics generally. I would comb the bookstores for every economics text I could find. I thought I had read them all until I went to a book fair one day and saw one I didn’t know about. It was Human Action. I like books the thicker the better, so I immediately bought a copy. I was amazed at its power from the outset.

One of my father’s friends found me reading Mises one day, and invited me to join the Reig seminar. They were surprised that I knew the book as well or better than the other members. Next I read Man, Economy, and State. Then over the years I steadily increased my knowledge.

What attracted you to economics at such a young age?
My family business is life insurance, which is the only trait I have in common with John Maynard Keynes who in the 1930s chaired the National Mutual Life Assurance Society of London. This is a very traditional business, having evolved for 200 years without any state intervention. Working with my father I naturally became interested in money, finance, and economic institutions. I wanted to be an actuary. I was very good at mathematics.

Money, Bank Credit, and Economic CyclesHow did Austrian economics change your worldview?
[I] began to realize that what works for actuaries, which deals with life and death probabilities, cannot work in economic theory because there are no constants in human action. There is creativity, change, choice, and discovery, but there are no fixed correspondents that allow the creation of functions.

Have any economists ever been declared saints?
Two scholastics, in fact. Two economists among the scholastics became saints: San Bernardino of Siena and his great student San Antonino of Florence. Let’s hope they will not be the last.

What do you see as the greatest threat to liberty today?
Statism.

How do you go about introducing your students to Austrian economics?
Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action is the required textbook.

How has Austrian economics influenced the modern Catholic church?
The Catholic church is like a huge transatlantic ocean liner. If you turn the wheel to the right, the boat moves slowly, slowly, and eventually begins to change direction.

There is a powerful Catholic group in Spain called Opus Dei. It is very close to the Pope and it is very pro-business. Someone in the order read the works of Hayek, saw him as very pro business, and sent out a message to the entire organization: Opus Dei should back the Austrians.

All of a sudden, all my books were being read by everyone in the order, and I began to lecture to their priests and members.

LOSA rojaWhat are your hobbies?
Golfing and yachting.

What are your favorite films and/or theatrical works?
Star Trek and all of Shakespeare.

What is your favorite literary work?
Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes.

What music do you enjoy the most?
Franz Peter Schubert and Johannes Brahms.

Can you think of an artwork that symbolizes or depicts human action?
LOSA roja (image to the left).
 
Books by Jesús Huerta de Soto:
- Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles (Mises Institute) (Find it here)
- The Austrian School: Market Order and Entrepreneurial Creativity (Edward Elgar) (Find it here)
- The Theory of Dynamic Efficiency (Routledge) (Find it here)
- Socialism, Economic Calculation And Entrepreneurship (Edward Elgar) (Find it here)

Web: www.jesushuertadesoto.com

See his Mises Daily archive here. See his video and audio archive here.

[Editor's Note: Some of the questions and answers in this interview have been taken from a previous interview.]

{ 6 comments }

Jonathan Finegold Catalán April 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I too was introduced to Austrian economics while living in Spain. At the time, I considered myself a capitalist, but in the same sense that Milton Friedman mistook fascism as a free economy in an unfree political environment; i.e. my definition of capitalism was extremely muddled. All the while, I agreed with concepts which today seem blatantly false – minimum wage, basic social welfare, et cetera. I was introduced to Austrian theory through a link to Mises Daily. Although I started by reading books such as Meltdown and Economics in One Lesson, what really enlightened me was Huerta de Soto’s Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles. Despite being on a topic of extreme difficulty, its clarity made it enjoyable and approachable.

Jesús Huerta de Soto is not only a gateway to sound economic theory to Spanish students. His excellent writing ability in Spanish transfers in the translations of his books. To the English world, he serves as an excellent spokesman for Austrian economics, and his texts should be required reading for any serious economics students. That said, I hope that the LvMI thinks about publishing more of his books, including his book on socialism. Making these texts affordable to the average Austrian consumer should be a foremost priority.

Although I was not fortunate enough to come across a copy of Human Action at 16, I was fortunate enough to come across Jesús Huerta de Soto at 20. He is the economist I aspire to be, and my greatest role model.

Bruce Koerber April 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm

And I hope the next generation continues to aspire towards classical liberalism, following your fine example.

newson April 3, 2010 at 2:23 am

hear, hear. it’s encouraging to see so many of the austrians’ works freely available in spanish, and huerta de soto is in part responsible. disheartening, the small number in italian.

i love jhds’ lectures which are very animated, and quite old-school.

newson April 3, 2010 at 3:06 am

lucky you, j.f.c. – discovering mises at twenty. for many like myself, it was years of wandering in the wilderness before happening upon this site.

Gernot Hassenpflug April 6, 2010 at 12:30 am

j.f.c., luck you indeed, the advent of the Internet too is a major boon to the younger generations. I discovered Mises.org only about a year ago, now I am 40 and all my latent thoughts are blossoming at the recognition that I was not deceived by my own doubts at how the world works.
Prof. De Soto’s book is on my reading list, to be read in parallel with Human Action.
Many thanks, Prof. De Soto, for opening up so many eyes to Austrian economics.

Steve July 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Just picked up Human Action, looking forward to reading it. Thanks for mentioning it.

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