When writing GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time, and Why Does It Matter? I vowed I would write the whole truth. Not just that I agreed with everything I wrote (the case with every book), but I that I would relate all that I was thinking. Here is one part of the
The post *GOAT* on Friedrich A. Hayek and his delusions appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
When writing GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time, and Why Does It Matter? I vowed I would write the whole truth. Not just that I agreed with everything I wrote (the case with every book), but I that I would relate all that I was thinking. Here is one part of the chapter on Hayek:
In the early 1980s Hayek was visiting the United States, and he was slated to give a talk at George Mason University. I was doing graduate study at Harvard at the time, but thought it was worthwhile to fly down to Virginia for this (why wasn’t Hayek invited to speak at Harvard? C’mon, you don’t already know the answer to that question!?). And so I arrived and yes Hayek was there.
Most of all I was surprised by how tall he was, and how he stooped when he walked. I also noticed his strange Viennese-British-sing-song accent, which at the time was new to me.
The talk was very impressive along one particular dimension. Every time Hayek uttered a sentence, you had the feeling he was saying something remarkably profound. You might say that he reeked of profundity. And in fact a lot of it was profound. Rather than speaking about political philosophy, or denationalization of money, as people expected at the time, Hayek dug deeply into the toolbox and covered the topics of money and capital, as you might have heard from him in the years leading up to his 1941 book The Pure Theory of Capital.
But it was somehow all profundity and no movement forward on the substance. Hayek repeated a lot of the points he made about capital theory in the 1930s and 1940s, but he didn’t do much to revise or improve his earlier point of view. I recall asking him a question (I can’t remember exactly what it was), and Hayek saying in response that he was planning to write a sequel volume to his 1941 Pure Theory of Capital. But whereas Pure Theory of Capital had dealt with capital in a “real” (non-monetary) setting, the next book would integrate the theories of money and capital in a way that he had failed to follow up on in the 1940s. In essence, he wished to revisit and also reverse the greatest failure of his career.
I went away thinking he was arrogant and delusional, and didn’t have much understanding for how much economics he had missed since the 1940s. Still, I enjoyed the talk and the chance to see Hayek. And, along the way, I learned something about profundity.