Weekend Reflections

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Tony Harris
17 years ago

John Quiggin is not a big fan of the Austrian school of economics, which he has dismissed as a few people in second tier universities and a person with a field project in Africa. How about giving some credit to Mises and Hayek for pointing out some decades before the fall of the Wall that central planning could never work? That looks like a pretty impressive achievement in retrospect, especially when you consider the tens of millions of lives that were wrecked in the failure of the central planning project.

On the topic of deregulation in Australia, I wonder whether John still thinks that it was a mistake, or did he just mean to say that it should have been done better?

Just in case the Austrian point of view turns out to be robust, it will be helpful to provide some onging commentary on the work that they are doing for the benefit of people who are open-minded on the issue without having the time or the interest to go looking for themselves.

This is a story from Peter Boettke, writing about the kind of political economy they are doing at the London School of Economics these days. Peter is one of the young movers and shakers at George Mason University and he has just spent some time at the LSE where he gave some talks and wrote some papers that are linked from this post.

The LSE approach, Puglisi tell his reader, is characterized by four distinctive traits in resarch: (1) combine theory and evidence; (2) focus on small, self-contained, and meaningful objects within a given set of political institutions rather than all-encompassing political institutions; (3) sound empirical methods as exemplified by panel data analysis as opposed to cross country analyses that intrinsically suffer from omitted variables and problems of heterogeneity, and (4) a search for black holes in the existing literature that might be filled in a manner similar to the Becker inspired Chicago approach.

Puglisi argues that the LSE approach to political economy results in politically feasible political economy. This LSE approach to political economy is most closely identified with Tim Besley. But does it really represent a separate school of thought in political economy as Puglisi suggests?