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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7635/best-book-on-economics-since-human-action/

Best Book on Economics since Human Action

January 10, 2008 by

I came across this rave review in a letter dated July 18, 1959 from Murray Rothbard to the Volker Fund:

In a forthcoming review of Henry Hazlitt’s The Failure of the ‘New Economics’ in National Review, I write that this is the best book on economics to be published since Mises’s Human Action, ten years ago. I do not think this an exaggeration. Exempting reprinted books, such as Mises’s Theory of Money and Credit or the Böhm-Bawerk volumes, what book can compete with this one? (Mises’s Theory and History and Hayek’s Counter-Revolution of Science are more philosophical or epistemological than straight economics). […]

Frankly, I didn’t realize that Henry had it in him. I always knew that he was an excellent journalist, and that he faithfully applied Misesian principles to his journalistic work, a difficult task in itself. And I knew that his Great Idea [Time Will Run Back] was a highly underrated work, and because cast in novel form, didn’t get the recognition that its acute discussion of economic principles deserved. Still, I did not realize that Henry would be so fine on the highest scholarly levels, as he has here shown himself to be. This is, in short an excellent work, at long last providing us with a minute, bit-by-bit, and yet also overall critique and demolition of the Keynesian heresy. There is no hesitation here, no namby-pamby ritualism about how ‘Keynes, despite his many errors, really contributed a great deal, etc.’ Keynes contributed only mischief, fallacy, and obfuscation, and Hazlitt is courageous enough to call a spade a spade.


Some may say (and I understand that Buchanan said something like this in his review) that an analysis of Keynesianism is not important nowadays. It is true that Keynesianism is not seemingly a hot issue today, although even here Hazlitt shows how Keynesianism is at the root of the current national income and ‘economics of growth’ analyses. But, on the other hand, the real reason why Keynesianism is not a hot issue is because it has been so thoroughly accepted, especially by the so-called ‘conservative’ side in the political debate. It is unquestioned by any prominent conservative or business magazine that, let the first sign of depression appear on the horizon, and the sure way to cure it is to have government deficit spending and inflation. Nobody believes in a balanced budget during depressed times anymore. This is the measure of the mass and intellectual acceptance of Keynesianism. And, as a matter of fact, the Chicago economists like Buchanan have the very neo-Keynesian virus in them. So let it never be said that Henry’s book is not important or timely. It should be read by every economist or everyone interested in fundamental economic problems. […]


Brent January 10, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Unfortunately, it is still timely.

DonL January 11, 2008 at 7:00 am

I am in the middle of re-reading this book now and I find it as Murray said: timely and very informative. I also think everyone should read it for a refresher on how bad Keynes was.

Robert January 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

But Hazlitt doesn’t know what he is talking about.

fundamentalist January 12, 2008 at 9:26 am

Hazlitt is great! Thanks! I learned econ at a Keynesian school, but one professor tried to steer me in the right direction by requiring Hazlitt’s One Lesson. I could see that Hazlitt contradicted the Keynesian econ I was learning, but I didn’t know why. But the book prepared me by opening my mind for when I would discover Austrian econ.

Another great, concise refutation of Keynesian econ is Peter Drucker’s essay “Toward a New Economics” published in the 1980′s. While demolishing Keynesian econ, Drucker dismisses Austrian econ with one sentence. Then he describes what the econ of the future needs to accomplish and his description matches Austrian econ very closely. Just shows that Drucker never really understood Austrian econ. I can’t find Drucker’s essay on the internet. If any knows of a link I would appreciate your posting it.

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