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Puzzlingly, Yglesias also thinks he can refute the Austrian theory by noting that “[s]pending patterns shift all the time without sparking a recession.” To which, Peter Klein replies, “Of course, Yglesias’s breezy summary of the theory skips over the time structure of production, the difference between consumption and investment, the role of interest rates in securing intertemporal coordination, the problem of expectations, and the other basic elements of the theory, which ten minutes of Wikipedia browsing could have explained.”
Yglesias reveals his unfamiliarity with the Austrian literature when he writes, “Many of the original Austrians found their business cycle ideas discredited by the Great Depression, in which the bust was clearly not self-correcting.” Considering that Herbert Hoover's and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal impeded the market’s correction process, one wonders how the 1930s could possibly have discredited the Austrian theory of the origin of recessions.
Finally, Yglesias contends that “the Austrian school . . . preaches despair and demands no action at all.”
Balderdash. Since it explains that busts are central-bank-caused and hence avoidable through market-based money and banking, its implicit message is one of hope and optimism. And as for demanding no action, on the contrary, it puts forth a long list of actions for those who want stable economic growth—all of them designed to dismantle the interventionist state.
Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, where this article originally appeared.