William Barnett II is Professor of Economics and Chase Distinguished Professor of International Business in the College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, where he has been a member of the economics department since 1974. He is also an Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He earned a B.B.A. in economics from Loyola University New Orleans in 1967, a Ph.D. in economics from Michigan State University in 1974, and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans in 1982. His teaching and research interests are in Austrian School economics, particularly the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle, and domestic and international macroeconomics and macro finance. He has published over 50 articles in scholarly refereed journals such as: The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics; The Review of Austrian Economics; Advances in Austrian Economics; The Independent Review; and, Public Choice; and, he appears frequently on television and radio.
He has been happily married to Helen Tedesco Barnett since 1969; they have three children, four grandchildren, and a fifth who will join their family in November, 2010.
What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
In my spare time I enjoy interacting with my wife, children, and grandchildren and reading. I have been a Yankees fan for over 60 years and watch them on TV when possible. Reading history and economics are my
What drew you to the Austrian school?
I was dissatisfied with certain aspects of neoclassical microeconomics and much of macroeconomics of all types, save ABCT, of which I knew nothing. Then someone – the publishers, I guess – sent me a copy each of Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics and New Directions in Austrian Economics. I had been a methodological positivist until then. After reading – no while reading – the first two articles in the book edited by Dolan I realized that the problems I perceived with mainstream economics were the result of faulty methodology. From that point on I read everything about Austrian economics, particularly ABCT, that I could find and acquire.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
I don’t think that is a fair question. There have been so many who have influenced my thinking as an economist: Menger, Bohm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Lachmann, Strigl, and Kirzner, to name a few.
Being a professor, have you noticed a greater interest to learn about the Austrian school among your students?
Do you have any new works on the way?
I am writing about a number of ideas, all related, at least in my mind: present v. future goods; the “time market;” the originary/pure rate of interest; and prospect v. retrospect in ABCT. In addition I’ve a number of other projects of less importance to me that are also underway.
What kind of impact do you hope to make with your work?
I have no idea; I don’t think most of my work to date has been widely read. For example, I was at a conference recently where several ideas that I have written about were discussed and it was obvious to me that no one, save Walter Block, my co-author, had read any of these papers – granted one was very long. Perhaps this is my fault. I am under the distinct impression that most AEs, if they know of me at all, think of me as Walter Block’s (intellectual) caddy; i.e., that he is the idea man and that he allows me to put my name on our co-authored papers, so long as I contribute some verbiage, cites, and references.
Are there any words of wisdom you wish to pass onto the next generation of Austrian scholars?
Read widely, especially history. Become a sufficiently good mathematician and statistician so that you can spot the flaws in so much of the mainstream literature and fight the mainstreamers on their on turf when necessary.
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