C&B Notes

A Hayekian View of the World

Via the Coordination Problem:

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.

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Hayek is in a long classical tradition that eschewed focus on surface macro aggregates and understood business cycles as first and foremost crises of production disproportionality and only secondarily (and not always) problems of excess demand to hold money.

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