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InsiderOnline Blog: December 2011

Macroeconomics Asks the Wrong Questions

The claim that Friedrich Hayek was not an important macroeconomist is meant to obscure Hayek’s essential challenge to the macroeconomic approach. That’s Mario Rizzo’s take on the latest “Krugmanic Outburst”:

Hayek’s approach attacks, root-and-branch, the macroeconomic way of thinking. It is not simply a challenge to a particular theory of the determinants of mass unemployment, inflation, business cycles and the like. Hayek is not accepting the rules of the game or the parameters of the sub-discipline of modern macroeconomics. Hayek does not want to argue that the government expenditure multiplier is 0.5 instead of 2.0, for example. He does not want to discuss just how much fiscal stimulus should be undertaken and what form it should assume.

In short, he does not want to focus on aggregate spending and aggregate consequences. Hayek’s approach says: Let us pierce the veil of aggregates and look at the distortive effects on relative prices and relative output produced by boom-time credit expansions. Let us look at the distortive effects that booms leave us as we work our way through a recession. Let us concentrate on sustainable lines of expenditure both during the boom and during the road out from the bust.

Suffice it to say this greatly erodes the intellectual capital of a field of economics – although one not noted for its successes. It mocks the claim that Keynes was a true revolutionary in economic thought. It opens the possibility that he was muddled, inconsistent and unaware of the contributions to monetary and business cycle theory made by the “classical economists” on the eve of the General Theory. [“Yes, Paul: It Is Hayek Versus Keynes,” ThinkMarkets, December 7, 2011.]

Posted on 12/15/11 12:24 PM by Alex Adrianson

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