Happy Birthday Ludwig!
In photographs, usually of him as an older man, he looks stiff & formal, like a sauerkraut maker dressed up for Sunday. He was born 130 years ago today, the finest economist of his or any other age and his name is Ludwig Von Mises
Von Mises into a wealthy Viennese Jewish family in 1881. His birthplace of Lemberg has, in the terrible turmoil of the 20th century,gone from Lvov to Lviv and from Austria to Ukraine but Ludwig is best thought of as coming from the brittle, magical brilliance of pre-WW1 Vienna.
Luckily for us, he had the foresight to leave Austria in 1934,teaching in Switzerland before moving to New York.
Although his brother Richard was a brilliant Applied Physicist (or maybe because?) Ludwig Von Mises never succumbed to the temptation to turn economics into a faux-physics look-a-like as did the charlatan Keynes.
His writings, widely available (and often freely- see resources where you can get several of his books as free downloads) deal with the issue of money & inflation connected to Free Markets & Government Control. It would be very difficult to find anyone whose insights have proven so devastatingly accurate or whose work is so clearly written.
He did not live long enough to see himself proved entirely right about the Communist economies of Eastern Europe which he had said could not calculate the price/value of anything in that system and so were doomed. Not surprisingly Austrian Economics, the economics of Von Mises,Hayek,von Böhm-Bawerk and Menger counts him as afather figure. Vvon Mises idea ofderiving economic theory by logical deduction from basic known principles of human action, or ‘praxeology’ is the exact opposoite of the mainstream Keynesian econometrics.
His great masterpiece is Human action and begins:
“HUMAN action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego’s meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person’s conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life.”
Starting from that point he goes on to encompass the entirety of economics.
I cannot do justice to Ludwig Von Mises in these short paragraphs, they are only intended as a birthday salute to a great mind. If you already know about him, lucky you, if not, then lucky me to be the one to introduce you to the master of real economics.
Happy Birthday Ludwig!