Kirznerian Economic History

Economic historian Deirdre McCloskey on Israel Kirzner:

In college I had a roommate, a brilliant electrical engineer, who would break from solving second-order differential equations by reading Ludwig von Mises’ Austrian classic Human Action. But I was the official economics major, so I supposed that what my teachers were telling me in classes about Keynesian economics and social engineering was the Real Thing. My roommate’s Misesian hobby was obviously “conservative” nonsense.

Oy veh iz mir. How I wish I had earlier read Mises — the senior colleague of Friedrich Hayek and the teacher of [Israel] Kirzner! It would have sped up my intellectual development by two or three decades, and given me more respect for the entrepreneur-centered thinking of my friendly opponent early in my career as an economic historian, the historian David Landes. It might have allowed me as early as the 1970s to use the Kirznerian entrepreneur to make progress on the puzzle of economic growth — instead of having to wait until the 2000s, painfully extracting myself over the decades from a Samuelsonian-Friedmanite devotion to equilibrium and routine.

Just imagine where McCloskey could be today had The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur or Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment been around in the 1960s and 1970s!


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