By F.A. Hayek
THE HISTORY OF ECONOMICS is full of tales of forgotten forerunners, men whose work had no effect and was only rediscovered after their main ideas had been made popular by others, of remarkable coincidences of simultaneous discoveries, and of the peculiar fate of individual books. But there must be few instances, in economics or any other branch of knowledge, where the works of an author who revolutionised the body of an already well-developed science and who has been generally recognised to have done so, have remained so littleknown as those of Carl Menger. It is difficult to think of a parallel case where a work such as the Grundsätze has exercised a lasting and persistent influence but has yet, as a result of purely accidental circumstances, had so extremely restricted a circulation.
There can be no doubt among competent historians that if, during the last sixty years, the Austrian School has occupied an almost unique position in the development of economic science, this is entirely due to the foundations laid by this one man. The reputation of the School in the outside world and the development of its system at important points were due to the efforts of his brilliant followers, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and Friedrich von Wieser. But it is not unduly to detract from the merits of these writers to say that its fundamental ideas belong fully and wholly to Carl Menger. If he had not found these principles he might have remained comparatively unknown, might even have shared the fate of the many brilliant men who anticipated him and were forgotten, and almost certainly would for a long time have remained little known outside the countries of the German tongue. But what is common to the members of the Austrian School, what constitutes their peculiarity and provided the foundations for their later contributions is their acceptance of the teaching of Carl Menger.
The independent and practically simultaneous discovery of the principle of marginal utility by William Stanley Jevons, Carl Menger, and Léon Walras is too well known to require retelling. The year 1871, in which both Jevons’ Theory of Political Economy and Menger’s Grundsätze appeared, is now generally and with justice regarded as the beginning of the modern period in the development of economics. Jevons had outlined his fundamental ideas nine years earlier in a lecture (published in 1866) which, however, attracted little attention, and Walras began to publish his contribution only in 1874, but the complete independence of the work of the three founders is quite certain. And indeed, although their central positions, the point in their system to which they and their contemporaries naturally attached the greatest importance, are the same, their work is so clearly distinct in general character and background that the most interesting problem is really how so different routes should have led to such similar results.
To understand the intellectual background of the work of Carl Menger, a few words on the general position of economics at that time are required. Although the quarter of a century between about 1848, the date of J.S. Mill’s Principles, and the emergence of the new school saw in many ways the greatest triumphs of the classical political economy in the applied fields, its foundations, particularly its theory of value, had become more and more discredited. Perhaps the systematic exposition in J.S. Mill’s Principles itself, in spite or because of his complacent satisfaction about the perfected state of the theory of value, together with his later retractions on other essential points of the doctrine, did as much as anything else to show the deficiencies of the classical system. In any case, critical attacks and attempts at reconstruction multiplied in most countries.
Nowhere, however, had the decline of the classical school of economists been more rapid and complete than in Germany. Under the onslaughts of the Historical School not only were the classical doctrines completely abandoned—they had never taken very firm root in that part of the world—but any attempt at theoretical analysis came to be regarded with deep distrust. This was partly due to methodological considerations. But even more it was due to an intense dislike of the practical conclusions of the classical English School—which stood in the way of the reforming zeal of the new group which prided itself on the name of the “ethical school.” In England the progress of economic theory only stagnated. In Germany a second generation of historical economists grew up who had not only never become really acquainted with the one well-developed system of theory that existed, but had also learnt to regard theoretical speculations of any sort as useless if not positively harmful.
The doctrines of the classical school were probably too much discredited to provide a possible basis of reconstruction for those who were still interested in problems of theory. But there were elements in the writings of the German economists of the first half of the century which contained the germs for a possible new development.1 One of the reasons why the classical doctrines had never firmly established themselves in Germany was that German economists had always remained conscious of certain contradictions inherent in any cost or, labour theory of value. Owing, perhaps, partly to the influence of Condillac and other French and Italian authors of the eighteenth century a tradition had been kept alive which refused to separate value entirely from utility. From the early years of the century into the ‘fifties and ‘sixties a succession of writers, of whom Hermann was probably the outstanding and most influential figure (the wholly successful Gossen remaining unnoticed), tried to combine the ideas of utility and scarcity into an explanation of value, often coming very near to the solution provided by Menger. It is to these speculations, which to the more practical minds of the contemporary English economists must have appeared useless excursions into philosophy, that Menger owed most. A glance through the extensive footnotes in his Grundsätze, or the author’s index which has been added to the present edition, will show how extraordinarily wide a knowledge he possessed of these German authors and also of the French and Italian writers, and how small a role the writers of the classical English school plays in comparison.
But while Menger probably surpassed all his fellow-founders of the marginal utility doctrine in the width of his knowledge of the literature—and only from a passionate book collector inspired by the example of the encyclopaedic Roscher could one expect a similar knowledge at the early age the Grundsätze was written—there are curious gaps in the list of authors to whom he refers which go far to explain the difference of his approach from that of Jevons and Walras. Particularly significant is his apparent ignorance, at the time when he wrote the Grundsätze, of the work of Cournot, to whom all the other founders of modern economics, Walras, Marshall, and very possibly Jevons, seem to have been directly or indirectly indebted. Even more surprising, however, is the fact that at that time Menger does not seem to have known the work of von Thünen, which one would have expected him to find particularly congenial. While it can be said, therefore, that he worked in an atmosphere distinctly favourable to an analysis on utility lines, he had nothing so definite on which to build a modern theory of price as his fellows in the same field, all of whom came under the influence of Cournot, to which must be added, in the case of Walras, that of Dupuit and, in the case of Marshall, that of von Thünen.
It is an interesting speculation to think what direction the development of Menger’s thought would have taken if he had been acquainted with these founders of mathematical analysis. It is a curious fact that, so far as I am aware, he has nowhere commented on the value of mathematics as a tool of economic analysis. There is no reason to assume that he lacked either the technical equipment or the inclination. On the contrary, his interest in the natural sciences is beyond doubt, and a strong bias in favour of their methods is evident throughout his work. And the fact that his brothers, particularly Anton, are known to have been intensely interested in mathematics, and that his son Karl became a noted mathematician, may probably be taken as evidence of a definite mathematical strain in the family. But although he knew later not only the work of Jevons and Walras, but also that of his compatriots Auspitz and Lieben, he does not even refer to the mathematical method in any of his writings on methodology. Must we conclude that he felt rather sceptical about its usefulness?
Among the influences to which Menger must have been subject during the formative period of his thought there is a complete absence of influence of Austrian economists, for the simple reason that, in the earlier part of the nineteenth century in Austria, there were practically no native economists. At the universities where Menger studied, political economy was taught as part of the law curriculum, mostly by economists imported from Germany. And though Menger, like all the later Austrian economists, proceeded to the degree of Doctor of Law, there is no reason to believe that he was really stimulated by his teachers in economics. This, however, leads us to his personal history.
Born on February 28, 1840, in Neu-Sandec, Galicia, the territory of the present Poland, the son of a lawyer, he came from an old family of Austrian craftsmen, musicians, civil servants and army officers, who had, only a generation before, moved from the German parts of Bohemia to the Eastern provinces. His mother’s father, a Bohemian merchant who had made a fortune during the Napoleonic wars, bought a large estate in Western Galicia where Carl Menger spent a great part of his boyhood, and before 1848 still saw the conditions of semi-servitude of the peasants which, in this part of Austria had persisted longer than in any part of Europe outside Russia. With his two brothers, Anton, later the well-known writer on law and socialism, author of the Right to the Whole Produce of Labour, and Carl’s colleague at the faculty of law of the University of Vienna, and Max, in his days a well-known Austrian parliamentarian and writer on social problems, he went to the Universities of Vienna (1859–60) and Prague (1860–3). After taking his doctor’s degree at the University of Cracow he devoted himself first to journalism, writing for papers in Lemberg and later in Vienna, on economic questions. After a few years he entered the Civil Service in the press department of the Austrian “Ministerratspräsidium,” an office which had always retained a very special position in the Austrian Civil Service and attracted many men of great talent.
Wieser reports that Menger once told him that it was one of his duties to write surveys of the state of the markets for an official newspaper, the Wiener Zeitung, and that it was in studying the market reports that he was struck by the glaring contrast between the traditional theories of price and the facts which experienced practical men considered as decisive for the determination of prices. Whether this was really the original cause which led Menger to the study of the determination of prices or whether, which seems more likely, it only gave a definite direction to studies which he had been pursuing since he had left the university, we do not know. There can be little doubt, however, that during the years intervening between the date when he left the university and the publication of the Grundsätze he must have worked intensely on these problems, delaying publication until his system was fully worked out in his mind.
He is said to have once remarked that he wrote the Grundsätze in a state of morbid excitement. This can hardly mean that this book was the product of a sudden inspiration, planned and written in great haste. Few books can have been more carefully planned; rarely has the first exposition of an idea been more painstakingly developed and followed up in all its ramifications. The slender volume which appeared early in 1871 was intended as a first, introductory part of a comprehensive treatise. It dealt with the fundamental questions, on which he disagreed with accepted opinion, with the exhaustiveness necessary to satisfy the author that he was building on absolutely firm ground. The problems treated in this “First, General Part,” as it is described on the title page, were the general conditions which led to economic activity, value exchange, price, and money. From manuscript notes communicated by his son more than fifty years later, in the introduction to the second edition, we know that the second part was to treat “interest, wages, rent, income, credit, and paper money,” a third “applied” part the theory of production and commerce, while a fourth part was to discuss criticism of the present economic system and proposals for economic reform.
His main aim, as he says in the preface, was a uniform theory of price which would explain all price phenomena and in particular also interest, wages, and rent by one leading idea. But more than half of the volume is devoted to matters which only prepare the way for that main task—to the concept which gave the new school its special character, i.e. value in its subjective, personal sense. And even this is not reached before a thorough examination of the main concepts with which economic analysis has to work.
The influence of the earlier German writers with their predilection for somewhat pedantic classifications and long-winded definitions of concepts is here clearly noticeable. But in Menger’s hands the time-honoured “fundamental concepts” of the traditional German textbook assume new life. Instead of a dry enumeration and definition they become the powerful instrument of an analysis in which every step seems to result with inevitable necessity from the preceding one. And though Menger’s exposition still lacks many of the more impressive phrases and elegant formulations of the writings of Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser, it is in substance hardly inferior and in many respects definitely superior to these later works.
It is not the purpose of the present introduction to give a connected outline of Menger’s argument. But there are certain less known, somewhat surprising, aspects of his treatment which deserve special mention. The careful initial investigation of the causal relationship between human needs and the means for their satisfaction, which within the first few pages leads him to the now celebrated distinction between goods of the first, second, third and higher orders, and the now equally familiar concept of complementarity between different goods, is typical of the particular attention which, the widespread impression to the contrary notwithstanding, the Austrian School has always given to the technical structure of production—an attention which finds its clearest systematic expression in the elaborate “vorwerttheoretischer Teil” which precedes the discussion of the theory of value in Wieser’s late work, the Theory of Social Economy, 1914.
Even more remarkable is the prominent role which the element of time plays from the very beginning. There is a very general impression that the earlier representatives of modern economics were inclined to neglect this factor. In so far as the originators of the mathematical exposition of modern equilibrium theory are concerned, this impression is probably justified. Not so with Menger. To him economic activity is essentially planning for the future, and his discussion of the period, or rather different periods, to which human forethought extends as regards different wants has a definitely modern ring.
It is somewhat difficult to believe now that Menger was the first to base the distinction between free and economic goods on the idea of scarcity. But, as he himself says, while the very concept was not known in the English literature, the German authors who had used it before him, and particularly Hermann, had all been trying to base the distinction on the presence or absence of cost in the sense of effort. But, very characteristically, while all of Menger’s analysis is grounded on the idea of scarcity, this simple term is nowhere used. “Insufficient quantity” or “das ökonomische Mengenverhältnis” are the very exact but somewhat cumbersome expressions which he uses instead.
It is characteristic of his work as a whole that he attaches more importance to a careful description of a phenomenon than to giving it a short and fitting name. This frequently prevents his exposition from being as effective as might have been wished. But it also protects him against a certain one-sidedness and a tendency towards oversimplification to which a brief formula so easily leads. The classic instance of this is, of course, the fact that Menger did not originate—nor, so far as I know, ever use—the term marginal utility introduced by Wieser, but always explained value by the somewhat clumsy but precise phrase, “the importance which concrete goods, or quantities of goods, receive for us from the fact that we are conscious of being dependent on our disposal over them for the satisfaction of our wants,” and describes the magnitude of this value as equal to the importance which attached to the least important satisfaction which is secured by a single unit of the available quantity of the commodity.
Another, perhaps less important but not insignificant instance of Menger’s refusal to condense explanations in a single formula, occurs even earlier in the discussion of the decreasing intensity of individual wants with increasing satisfaction. This physiological fact, which later under the name of “Gossen’s law of the satisfaction of wants” was to assume a somewhat disproportionate position in the exposition of the theory of value, and was even hailed by Wieser as Menger’s main discovery, takes in Menger’s system the more appropriate minor position as one of the factors which enable us to arrange the different individual sensations of want in order of their importance.
On yet another and a more interesting point in connection with the pure theory of subjective value Menger’s views are remarkably modern. Although he speaks occasionally of value as measurable, his exposition makes it quite clear that by this he means no more than that the value of any one commodity can be expressed by naming another commodity of equal value. Of the figures which he uses to represent the scales of utility he says expressly that they are not intended to represent the absolute, but only the relative importance of the wants, and the very examples he gives when he first introduces them makes it perfectly clear that he thinks of them not as cardinal but as ordinal figures.
Next to the general principle which enabled him to base the explanation of value on utility the most important of Menger’s contributions is probably the application of this principle to the case where more than one good is required to secure the satisfaction of any want. It is here that the painstaking analysis of the causal relationship between goods and wants in the opening chapters and the concepts of complementarity and of goods or different orders bears its fruits. Even to-day it is hardly recognised that Menger answered the problem of the distribution of the utility of a final product between the several co-operating commodities of a higher order—the problem of imputation as it was later called by Wieser—by a fairly developed theory of marginal productivity. He distinguishes clearly between the case where the proportions in which two or more factors can be used in the production of any commodity are variable and the case where they are fixed. He answers the problem of imputation in the first case by saying that such quantities of the different factors as can be substituted for each other in order to get the same additional quantity of the product must have equal value, while in the case of fixed proportions he points out that the value of the different factors is determined by their utility in alternative uses.
In this first part of his book, which is devoted to the theory of subjective value, and compares well with the later exposition by Wieser, Böhm-Bawerk and others, there is really only one major point on which Menger’s exposition leaves a serious gap. A theory of value can hardly be called complete and will certainly never be quite convincing if the role that cost of production plays in determining the relative value of different commodities is not explicitly explained.
At an early point of his exposition Menger indicates that he sees the problem and promises a later answer. But this promise is never fulfilled It was left to Wieser to develop what later became known as the principle of Opportunity cost or “Wieser’s Law,” i.e. the principle that the other uses computing for the factors will limit the quantity available for any one line of production in such a way that the value of the product will not fall below the sum of the value which all the factors used in its production obtain in these competing uses.
It has sometimes been suggested that Menger and his school were so pleased with their discovery of the principles governing value in the economy of an individual that they were inclined to apply the same principles in an all too rapid and over-simplified way to the explanation of price There may be some justification for such a suggestion so far as the works of some of Menger’s followers, particularly the younger Wieser, are concerned. But it certainly cannot be said of Menger’s own work. His exposition completely conforms to the rule later so much emphasized by Böhm-Bawerk, that any satisfactory explanation of price would have to consist of two distinct and separate stages of which the explanation of subjective value is only the first. It only provides the basis for an explanation of the causes and limits of exchanges between two or more persons Menger’s arrangement in the Grundsätze is exemplary in this respect. The chapter on exchange which precedes that on price makes the influence of value in the subjective sense on the objective exchange relationships quite clear without postulating any greater degree of correspondence than is actually justified by the assumptions.
The chapter on price itself, with its careful investigation of how the relative valuations of the individual participants in the exchange themselves will affect the ratios of exchange in the case of an isolated exchange of two individuals, under conditions of monopoly and finally under conditions of competition, is the third and probably the least known of the main contributions of the Grundsätze. Yet it is only in reading this chapter that one realises the essential unity of his thought, the clear aim which directs his exposition from the beginning to this crowning achievement.
On the final chapters, which deal with the effects of production for a market, the technical meaning of the term “commodity” (Ware) as distinguished from the simple “good,” their different degrees of saleability leading up to the introduction and discussion of money, little need be said at this point. The ideas contained here and the fragmentary remarks on capital contained in earlier sections are the only sections of this first work which were developed further in his printed work later on. Although they embody contributions of lasting influence, it was mainly in their later, more elaborate exposition that they became known.
The considerable space devoted here to the discussion of the contents of the Grundsätze is justified by the outstanding character of this work among Menger’s publications and, indeed, among all the books which have laid the foundations of modern economics. It is, perhaps, appropriate to quote in this connection the judgment of the scholar best qualified to assess the relative merits of the different variants of the modern school, of Knut Wicksell who was the first, and hitherto the most successful, to combine what is best in the teaching of the different groups. “His fame,” he says, “rests on this work and through it his name will go down to posterity, for one can safely say that since Ricardo’s Principles there has been no book—not even excepting Jevon’s brilliant if rather aphoristic achievement and Walras’s unfortunately difficult work—which has exercised such great influence on the development of economics as Menger’s Grundsätze.”
But the immediate reception of the book can hardly be called encouraging. None of the reviewers in the German journals seem to have realised the nature of its main contribution. At home Menger’s attempt to obtain, on the strength of this work, a lectureship (Privatdozentur) at the University of Vienna succeeded only after some difficulty. He can scarcely have known that, just before he began his lectures, there had just left the University two young men who immediately recognised that his work provided the “Archimedian point,” as Wieser called it, by which the existing systems of economic theory could be lifted out of their hinges. Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser, his first and most enthusiastic disciples, were never his direct pupils, and their attempt to popularise Menger’s doctrines in the seminars of the leaders of the older historical school, Knies, Roscher, and Hildebrand was fruitless. But Menger gradually succeeded in gaining considerable influence at home. Soon after his promotion to the rank of professor extraordinarius in 1873 he resigned from his position in the prime minister’s office, to the great surprise of his chief, Prince Auersperg, who found it difficult to understand that anybody should want to exchange a position with prospects to satisfy the greatest ambition for an academic career. But this did not yet mean Menger’s final adieu to the world of affairs, in 1876 he was appointed one of the tutors to the ill-fated Crown Prince Rudolph, then eighteen years of age, and accompanied him during the next two years on his extensive travels through the greater part of Europe, including England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. After his return he was appointed in 1879 to the chair of political economy in Vienna, and thenceforward he settled down to the secluded and quiet life of the scholar which was to be so characteristic of the second half of his long life.
By this time the doctrines of his first book—apart from a few short reviews of books he had published nothing in the intervening period—were beginning to attract wider attention. Rightly or wrongly, with Jevons and Walras it was the mathematical form rather than the substance of their teaching which appeared to be their main innovation, and which contributed the chief obstacle to their acceptance. But there were no obstacles of this sort to an understanding of Menger’s exposition of the new theory of value. During the second decade after the publication of the book, its influence began to extend with great rapidity. At the same time Menger began to acquire considerable reputation as a teacher, and to attract to his lectures and seminars an increasing number of students, many of whom soon became economists of considerable reputation. In addition to those already noted, among the early members of his school his contemporaries Emil Sax and Johann von Komorzynski, and his students Robery Meyer, Robert Zuckerkandl, Gustav Gross, and—at a somewhat later date—H. von Schullern-Schrattenhofen, Richard Reisch and Richard Schüller deserve special mention.
But, while at home a definite school was forming, in Germany, even more than in other foreign countries, economists maintained a hostile attitude. It was at this time that the younger Historical School, under the leadership of Schmoller, was gaining the greatest influence in that country. The “Volkswirtschaftliche Kongress,” which had preserved the classical tradition, was superseded by the newly founded “Verein für Sozialpolitik,” Indeed the teaching of economic theory was more and more excluded from German universities. Thus Menger’s work was neglected, not because the German economists thought that he was wrong, but because they considered the kind of analysis he attempted was useless.
Under these conditions it was only natural that Menger should consider it more important to defend the method he had adopted against the claims of the Historical School to possess the only appropriate instrument of research, than to continue the work on the Grundsätze. It is to this situation that his second great work, the Untersuchungen über die Methode der Socialwissenschaften und der politischen Oekonomie insbesondere is due. It is well to remember that in 1875 when Menger started to work on that book, and even in 1883 when it was published, the rich crop of works by his disciples which definitely established the position of the school, had not yet begun to mature, and that he might well have thought that it would be wasted effort to continue while the question of principle was not decided.
In their way the Untersuchungen are hardly less an achievement than the Grundsätze. As a polemic against the claims of the Historical School to an exclusive right to treat economic problems the book can hardly be surpassed. Whether the merits of its positive exposition of the nature of theoretical analysis can be rated as high is, perhaps, not quite certain. If this were, indeed, its main title to fame there might be something in the suggestion occasionally heard among Menger’s admirers that it was unfortunate that he was drawn away from his works on the concrete problems of economics. This is not to mean that what he said on the character of the theoretical or abstract method is not of very great importance or that it had not very great influence. Probably it did more than any other single book to make clear the peculiar character of the scientific method in the social sciences, and it had a very considerable effect on professional “methodologists” among German philosophers. But to me, at any rate, its main interest to the economist in our days seems to lie in the extraordinary insight into the nature of social phenomena which is revealed incidentally in the discussion of problems mentioned to exemplify different methods of approach, and in the light shed by his discussion of the development of the concepts with which the social sciences have to work. Discussions of somewhat obsolete views, as that of the organic or perhaps better physiological interpretation of social phenomena, give him an opportunity for an elucidation of the origin and character of social institutions which might, with advantage, be read by present-day economists and sociologists.
Of the central contentions of the book only one may be singled out for further comment; his emphasis on the necessity of a strictly individualistic or, as he generally says, atomistic method of analysis. It has been said of him by one of his most distinguished followers that “he himself always remained an individualist in the sense of the classical economists. His successors ceased to be so.” It is doubtful whether this statement is true of more than one or two instances. But in any case it fails signally to give Menger full credit for the method he actually employed. What with the classical economists had remained something of a mixture between an ethical postulate and a methodological tool, was developed by him systematically in the latter direction. And if emphasis on the subjective element has been fuller and more convincing in the writings of the members of the Austrian School than in those of any other of the founders of modern economics, this is largely due to Menger’s brilliant vindication in this book.
Menger had failed to arouse the German economists with his first book. But he could not complain of neglect of his second. The direct attack on what was the only approved doctrine attracted immediate attention and provoked, among other hostile reviews, a magisterial rebuke from Gustav Schmoller, the head of the school—a rebuke couched in a tone more than usually offensive. Menger accepted the challenge and replied in a passionate pamphlet, Irrthümer des Historismus in der deutschen Nationalokönomie, written in the form of letters to a friend, in which he ruthlessly demolished Schmoller’s position. The pamphlet adds little in substance to the Untersuchungen. But it is the best instance of the extraordinary power and brilliance of expression which Menger could achieve when he was engaged, not on building up an academic and complicated argument, but on driving home the points of a straightforward debate.
The encounter between the masters was soon imitated by their disciples. A degree of hostility not often equalled in scientific controversy was created. The crowning offence from the Austrian point of view was given by Schmoller himself who, on the appearance of Menger’s pamphlet, took the probably unprecedented step of announcing in his journal that, although he had received a copy of the book for review, he was unable to review it because he had immediately returned it to the author, and reprinting the insulting letter with which the returned copy had been accompanied.
It is necessary to realise fully the passion which this controversy aroused, and what the break with the ruling school in Germany meant to Menger and his followers, if we are to understand why the problem of the adequate methods remained the dominating concern of most of Menger’s later life. Schmoller, indeed, went so far as to declare publicly that members of the “abstract” school were unfit to fill a teaching position in a German university, and his influence was quite sufficient to make this equivalent to a complete exclusion of all adherents to Menger’s doctrines from academic positions in Germany. Even thirty years after the close of the controversy Germany was still less affected by the new ideas now triumphant elsewhere, than any other important country in the world.
In spite of these attacks, however, in the six years from 1884 to 1889 there appeared in rapid succession the books which finally established the reputation of the Austrian School the world over. Böhm-Bawerk, indeed, had already in 1881 published his small but important study on Rechte und Verhältnisse vom Standpunkt der wirtschaftlichen Güterlehre, but it was only with the simultaneous publications of the first part of his work on capital, the Geschichte und Kritik der Kapitalzinstheorien, and of Wieser’s Ursprung und Haupigesetze des wirtschaftlichen Wertes in 1884 that it became apparent how powerful a support to Menger’s doctrines had arisen in this quarter. Of these two works Wieser’s was undoubtedly the more important for the further development of Menger’s fundamental ideas, since it contained the essential application to the cost phenomenon, now known as Wieser’s law of cost, to which reference has already been made. But two years later appeared Böhm-Bawerk’s Grundzüge einer Theorie des wirtschaftlichen Güterwertes which, although it adds little except by way of casuistic elaboration to the work of Menger and Wieser, by the great lucidity and force of its argument has probably done more than any other single work to popularise the marginal utility doctrine. In the year 1884 two of Menger’s immediate pupils, V. Mataja and G. Gross, had published their interesting books on profits, and E. Sax contributed a small but acute study on the question of method in which he supported Menger in his fundamental attitude but criticised him on some points of detail. In 1887 Sax made his main contribution to the development of the Austrian School by the publication of his Grundlegung der theoretischen Staatswirtschaft, the first and most exhaustive attempt to apply the marginal utility principle to the problems of public finance, and in the same year another of Menger’s early students, Robert Meyer, entered the field with his investigation of the somewhat cognate problem of the nature of income.
But the richest crop was that of the year 1889. In this year was published Böhm-Bawerk’s Positive Theorie des Kapitalzinses, Wieser’s Natürlicher Wert, Zuckerkandl’s Zur Theorie des Preises, Komorzynski’s Wert in der isolierten Wirtschaft, Sax’s Neueste Fortschritte der nationalökonomischen Theorie, and H. von Schullern-Schrattenhofen’s Untersuchungen über Begriff und Wesen der Grundrente.
Perhaps the most successful early exposition of the doctrines of the Austrian School in a foreign language was M. Pantalconi’s Pure Economics which appeared first in the same year. Of other Italian economists L. Cossa, A. Graziani and G. Mazzola accepted most or all of Menger’s doctrines. Similar success attended these doctrines in Holland where the acceptance by the great Dutch economist, N.G. Pierson, of the marginal utility doctrine in his textbook (1884–1889), published later in English under the title Principles of Economics, had also considerable influence. In France Ch. Gide, E. Villey, Ch. Secrétan and M. Block spread the new doctrine, and in the United States S.N. Patten and Professor Richard Ely had received it with great sympathy. Even the first edition of A. Marshall’s Principles, which appeared in 1890, showed a considerably stronger influence of Menger and his group than readers of the later editions of that great work would suspect. And in the next few years Smart and Dr. Bonar, who had already earlier shown their adherence to the school, widely popularised the work of the Austrian School in the English-speaking world. But, and this brings us back to the special position of Menger’s work, it was now not so much his writings as those of his pupils which continuously gained in popularity. The main reason for this was simply that Menger’s Grundsätze had for some time been out of print and difficult to procure, and that Menger refused to permit either a reprint or a translation. He hoped to replace it soon by a much more elaborate “system” of economics and was, in any case, unwilling to have the work republished without considerable revision. But other tasks claimed his prior attention, and for years led to a continual postponement of this plan.
Menger’s direct controversy with Schmoller had come to an abrupt end in 1884. But the Methodenstreit was carried on by others, and the problems involved continued to claim his main attention. The next occasion which induced him to make a public pronouncement on these questions was the publication, in 1885 and 1886, of a new edition of Schönberg’s Handbuch der politischen Oekonomie, a collective work in which a number of German economists, most of them not convinced adherents to the Historical School, had combined to produce a systematic exposition of the whole field of political economy. Menger reviewed the work for a Viennese legal journal in an article which also appeared as a separate pamphlet under the title Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie (1887). Its second half is largely devoted to the discussion of the classification of the different disciplines commonly grouped together under the name of political economy, a theme which, two years later, he treated more exhaustively in another article entitled Grundzüge einer Klassifikation der Wirtschaftswissenschaften. In the intervening year, however, he published one of his two further contributions to the substance—as distinguished from the methodology—of economic theory, his important study, Zur Theorie des Kapitals.
It is pretty certain that we owe this article to the fact that Menger did not quite agree with the definition of the term capital which was implied in the first, historical part of Böhm-Bawerk’s Capital and Interest. The discussion is not polemical. Böhm-Bawerk’s book is mentioned only to commend it. But its main aim is clearly to rehabilitate the abstract concept of capital as the money value of the property devoted to acquisitive purposes against the Smithian concept of the “produced means of production.” His main argument that the distinction of the historical origin of a commodity is irrelevant from an economic point of view, as well as his emphasis on the necessity of clearly distinguishing between the rent obtained from already existing instruments of production and interest proper, refer to points which, even to-day, have not yet received quite the attention they deserve.
It was at about the same time, in 1889, that Menger was almost persuaded by his friends not to postpone further the publication of a new edition of the Grundsätz. But although he actually wrote a new preface to that new edition (excerpts from which have been printed more than thirty years later by his son in the introduction to the actual second edition), nevertheless publication was again postponed. Soon after a new set of publications emerged, which absorbed his main attention and occupied him for the next two years.
Towards the end of the ‘eighties the perennial Austrian currency problem had assumed a form where a drastic final reform seemed to become both possible and necessary. In 1878 and 1879 the fall of the price of silver had first brought the depreciated paper currency back to its silver parity and soon afterwards made it necessary to discontinue the free coinage of silver; since then the Austrian paper money had gradually appreciated in terms of silver and fluctuated in terms of gold. The situation during that period—in many respects one of the most interesting in monetary history—was more and more regarded as unsatisfactory, and as the financial position of Austria seemed for the first time for a long period strong enough to promise a period of stability, the Government was generally expected to take matters in hand. Moreover, the treaty concluded with Hungary in 1887 actually provided that a commission should immediately be appointed to discuss the preparatory measures necessary to make the resumption of specie payments possible. After considerable delay, due to the usual political difficulties between the two parts of the dual monarchy, the commission, or rather commissions, one for Austria and one for Hungary, were appointed and met in March 1892, in Vienna and Budapest respectively.
The discussions of the Austrian “Währungs-Enquete-Commission,” of which Menger was the most eminent member, are of considerable interest quite apart from the special historical situation with which they had to deal. As the basis of their transactions the Austrian Ministry of Finance had prepared with extraordinary care three voluminous memoranda, which contain probably the most complete collection available of documentary material for monetary history of the preceding period which has appeared in any publication.Among the members besides Menger there were other well-known economists, such as Sax, Lieben and Mataja, and a number of journalists, bankers and industrialists, such as Benedikt, Hertzka and Taussig, all of whom had a more than ordinary knowledge of monetary problems, while Böhm-Bawerk, then in the Ministry of Finance, was one of the Government representatives and vice-chairman. The task of the commission was not to prepare a report, but to hear and discuss the views of its members on a number of questions put to them by the Government. These questions concerned the basis of the future currency, the retention, in the case of the adoption of the Gold Standard, of the existing silver and paper circulation, the ratio of exchange between the existing paper florin and gold, and the nature of the new unit to be adopted.
Menger’s mastery of the problem, no less than his gift of clear exposition, gave him immediately a leading position in the commission and his statement attracted the widest attention. It even achieved what, for an economist, was perhaps the unique distinction of causing a temporary slump on the stock exchange. His contribution consisted not so much in his discussion of the general question of the choice of the standard—here he agreed with practically all the members of the commission that the adoption of the Gold Standard was the only practical course—but in his careful discussion on the practical problems of the exact parity to be chosen and the moment of time to be selected for the transition. It is mainly for his evaluation of these practical difficulties connected with any transition to a new standard of currency, and the survey of the different considerations that have to be taken into account, that his evidence is rightly celebrated. It has extraordinarily topical interest to-day, where similar problems have to be faced by almost all countries.
This evidence, the first of a series of contributions to monetary problems, was the final and mature product of several years of concentration on these questions. The results of these were published in rapid succession in the course of the same year—a year during which there appeared a greater number of publications from Menger’s hand than at any other period of his life. The results of his investigations into the special problems of Austria appeared as two separate pamphlets. The first, entitled Beiträge zur Währungsfrage in Oesterreich-Ungarn, and dealing with the history and the peculiarities of the Austrian currency problem and the general question of the standard to be adopted, is a revised reprint of a series of articles which appeared earlier in the year in Conrad’s Jahrbücher under a different title. The second, called Der Uebergang zur Goldwährung. Untersuchungen über die Wertprobleme der österreichisch-ungarischen Valutareform (Vienna, 1892), treats essentially the technical problems connected with the adoption of a Gold Standard, particularly the choice of the appropriate parity and the factors likely to affect the value of the currency once the transition had been made.
But the same year also saw the publication of a much more general treatment of the problems of money which was not directly concerned with the special question of the day, and which must be ranked as the third and last of Menger’s main contributions to economic theory. This was the article on money in volume iii of the first edition of the Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften which was then in the process of publication. It was his preoccupation with the extensive investigations carried out in connection with the preparation of this elaborate exposition of the general theory of money, investigations which must have occupied him for the preceding two or three years, which brought it about that the beginning of the discussion of the special Austrian problems found Menger so singularly equipped to deal with them. He had, of course, always been strongly interested in monetary problems. The last chapter of the Grundsätze and parts of the Untersuchungen über die Methode contain important contributions, particularly on the question of the origin of money. It should also be noted that, among the numerous review articles which Menger used to write for daily newspapers, particularly in his early years, there are two in 1873 which deal in great detail with J.E. Cairnes’s Essays on the effects of the gold discoveries: in some respects Menger’s later views are nearly related to those of Cairnes. But while Menger’s earlier contributions, particularly the introduction of the concepts of the different degrees of “saleability” of commodities as the basis for the understanding of the functions of money, would have secured him an honourable position in the history of monetary doctrines, it was only in this last major publication that he made his main contribution to the central problem of the value of money. Until the work of Professor Mises twenty years later, the direct continuation of Menger’s work, this article remained the main contribution of the “Austrian School” to the theory of money. It is worth while dwelling a little on the nature of this contribution, for it is a matter on which there is still much misunderstanding. It is often thought that the Austrian contribution consists only of a somewhat mechanical attempt to apply the marginal utility principle to the problem of the value of money. But this is not so. The main Austrian achievement in this field is the consistent application to the theory of money of the peculiar subjective or individualistic approach which, indeed, underlies the marginal utility analysis, but which has a much wider and more universal significance. Such an achievement springs directly from Menger. His exposition of the meaning of the different concepts of the value of money, the causes of changes and the possibility of a measurement of this value, as well as his discussion of the factors determining the demand for money, all seem to me to represent a most significant advance beyond the traditional treatment of the quantity theory in terms of aggregates and averages. And even where, as in the case of his familiar distinction between the “inner” and the “outer” value (innerer und äusserer Tauschwert) of money, the actual terms employed are somewhat misleading—the distinction does not, as would appear from the terms, refer to different kinds of value but to the different forces which affect prices—the underlying concept of the problem is extraordinarily modern.
With the publications of the year 1892 the list of Menger’s major works which appeared during his lifetime comes to an abrupt end. During the remaining three decades of his life he only published occasional small articles, a complete list of which will be found in the bibliography of his writings at the end of the last volume of the present edition of his collected works. For a few years these publications were still mainly concerned with money. Of these, his lecture on Das Goldagio und der heutige Stand der Valutareform (1893), his article on money and coinage in Austria since 1857 in the Oesterreichische Staatswörterbuch (1897), and particularly the thoroughly revised edition of his article on money in volume four of the second edition of the Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften (1900), ought to be specially mentioned. The latter publications are mainly of the character of reviews, biographical notes or introductions to works published, by his pupils. His last published article is an obituary of his disciple Böhm-Bawerk, who died in 1914.
The reason for this apparent inactivity is clear. Menger now wanted to concentrate entirely on the major tasks which he had set himself—the long postponed systematic work on economics, and beyond this a comprehensive treatise on the character and methods of the social sciences in general. It was to the completion of this work that his main energy was devoted and in the late ‘nineties he looked forward to a publication in the near future and considerable parts were ready in a definite form. But his interests and the scope of the proposed work continued to expand to wider and wider circles. He found it necessary to go far in the study of other disciplines. Philosophy, psychology and ethnography claimed more and more of his time, and the publication of the work was again and again postponed. In 1903 he went so far as to resign from his chair at the comparatively early age of 63 in order to be able to devote himself entirely to his work. But he was never satisfied and seems to have continued to work on it in the increasing seclusion of his old age until he died in 1921 at the advanced age of 81. An inspection of his manuscript has shown that, at one time, considerable parts of the work must have been ready for publication. But even after his powers had begun to fail he continued to revise and rearrange the manuscripts to such an extent that any attempt to reconstruct this would be a very difficult, if not an impossible task. Some of the material dealing with the subject-matter of the Grundsätze and partly intended for a new edition of this work, has been incorporated by his son in a second edition of this work, published in 1923. Much more, however, remains in the form of voluminous but fragmentary and disordered manuscripts, which only the prolonged and patient efforts of a very skillful editor could make accessible. For the present, at any rate, the results of the work of Menger’s later years must be regarded as lost.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
For one who can hardly claim to have known Carl Menger in person it is a hazardous undertaking to add to this sketch of his scientific career an appreciation of his character and personality. But as so little about him is generally known to the present generation of economists, and since there is no comprehensive literary portrait available, an attempt to piece together some of the impressions recorded by his friends and students, or preserved by the oral tradition in Vienna, may not be altogether out of place. Such impressions naturally relate to the second half of his life, to the period when he had ceased to be in active contact with the world of affairs, and when he had already taken to the quiet and retired life of the scholar, divided only between his teaching and his research.
The impression left on a young man by one of those rare occasions when the almost legendary figure became accessible is well reproduced in the well-known engraving of F. Schmutzer. It is possible, indeed, that one’s image of Menger owes as much to this masterly portrait as to memory. The massive, well-modelled head, with the colossal forehead and the strong but clear lines there delineated are not easily forgotten. Tall, with a wealth of hair and full beard, in his prime Menger must have been a man of extraordinarily impressive appearance.
In the years after his retirement it became a tradition that young economists entering upon an academic career undertook the pilgrimage to his home. They would be genially received by Menger among his books and drawn into conversation about the life which he had known so well, and from which he had withdrawn after it had given him all he had wanted. In a detached way he preserved a keen interest in economics and university life to the end and when, in the later years, failing eyesight had defeated the indefatigable reader, he would expect to be informed by the visitor about the work he had done. In these late years he gave the impression of a man who, after a long active life, continued his pursuits not to carry out any duty or self-imposed task, but for the sheer intellectual pleasure of moving in the element which had become his own. In his later life, perhaps, he conformed somewhat to the popular conception of the scholar who has no contact with real life. But this was not due to any limitation of his outlook. It was the result of a deliberate choice at a mature age and after rich and varied experience.
For Menger had lacked neither the opportunity nor the external signs of distinction to make him a most influential figure in public life, if he had cared. In 1900 he had been made a life member of the upper chamber of the Austrian Parliament. But he did not care sufficiently to take a very active part in its deliberations. To him the world was a subject for study much more than for action, and it was for this reason only that he had intensely enjoyed watching it at close range. In his written work one can search in vain for any expressions of his political views. Actually, he tended to conservatism or liberalism of the old type. He was not without sympathy for the movement for social reform, but social enthusiasm would never interfere with his cold reasoning. In this, as in other respects, he seems to have presented a curious contrast to his more passionate brother Anton. Hence it is mainly as one of the most successful teachers at the University that Menger is best remembered by generations of students, and that he has indirectly had enormous influence on Austrian public life. All reports agree in the praise of his transparent lucidity of exposition. The following account of his impression by a young American economist who attended Menger’s lectures in the winter 1892–93 may be reproduced here as representative: “Professor Menger carries his fifty-three years lightly enough. In lecturing he rarely uses his notes except to verify a quotation or a date. His ideas seem to come to him as he speaks and are expressed in language so clear and simple, and emphasised with gestures so appropriate, that it is a pleasure to follow him. The student feels that he is being led instead of driven, and when a conclusion is reached it comes into his mind not as something from without, but as the obvious consequence of his own mental process. It is said that those who attend Professor Menger’s lectures regularly need no other preparation for their final examination in political economy, and I can readily believe it. I have seldom, if ever, heard a lecturer who possessed the same talent for combining clearness and simplicity of statement with philosophical breadth of view. His lectures are seldom ‘over the heads’ of his dullest students, and yet always contain instruction for the brightest.” All his students retain a particularly vivid memory of the sympathetic and thorough treatment of the history of economic doctrines, and mimeographed copies of his lectures on public finance were still sought after by the student twenty years after he had retired, as the best preparation for the examinations.
His great gifts as a teacher were, however, best shown in his seminar where a select circle of advanced students and many men who had long ago taken their doctor’s degree assembled. Sometimes, when practical questions were discussed, the seminar was organised on parliamentary lines with appointed main speakers pro and contra a measure. More frequently, however, a carefully prepared paper by one of the members was the basis of long discussions. Menger left the students to do most of the talking, but he took infinite pains in assisting in the preparations of the papers. Not only would he put his library completely at the disposal of the students, and even bought for them books specially needed, but he would go through the manuscript with them many times, discussing not only the main questions and the organisation of the paper, but even “teaching them elocution and the technique of breathing.”
For newcomers it was, at first, difficult to get into closer contact with Menger. But once he had recognised a special talent and received the student into the select circle of the seminar he would spare no pains to help him on with his work. The contact between Menger and his seminar was not confined to academic discussions. He frequently invited the seminar to a Sunday excursion into the country or asked individual students to accompany him on his fishing expeditions. Fishing, in fact, was the only pastime in which he indulged. Even here he approached the subject in the scientific spirit he brought to everything else, trying to master every detail of its technique and to be familiar with its literature.
It would be difficult to think of Menger as having a real passion which was not in some way connected with the dominating purpose of his life, the study of economics. Outside the direct study of his subject, however, there was a further preoccupation hardly less absorbing, the collection and preservation of his library. So far as its economic section is concerned this library must be ranked as one of the three or four greatest libraries ever formed by a private collector. But it comprised by no means only economics, and its collections on ethnography and philosophy were nearly as rich. After his death the greater part of this library, including all economics and ethnography, went to Japan and is now preserved as a separate part of the library of the school of economics in Tokyo. That part of the published catalogue which deals with economics alone contains more than 20,000 entries.
It was not given to Menger to realise the ambition of his later years and to finish the great treatise which, he hoped, would be the crowning achievement of his work. But he had the satisfaction of seeing his great early work bearing the richest fruit, and to the end he retained an intense and never flagging enthusiasm for the chosen object of his study. The man who is able to say, as it is reported he once said, that if he had seven sons, they should all study economics, must have been extraordinarily happy in his work. That he had the gift to inspire a similar enthusiasm in his pupils is witnessed by the host of distinguished economists who were proud to call him their master.
This biographical study was written as an Introduction to the Reprint of Menger’s Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre which constitutes the first of a series of four Reprints embodying Menger’s chief published contributions to Economic Science and which were published by the London School of Economics as Numbers 17 to 20 of its Series of Reprints of Scarce Works in Economics and Political Science.
1The same is largely true of France. Even in England there was a kind of unorthodox tradition, of which the same may be said, but it was completely obscured by the dominant classical school. It is, however, important here because the work of its outstanding representative, Longfield, had through the intermediary ship of Hearn no doubt some influence on Jevons.
 It is hardly surprising that he did not know his immediate German predecessor H.H. Gossen, but neither did Jevons or Walras when they first published their ideas. The first book which did justice at all to Gossen’s work, F.A. Lange’s Arbeiterfrage (2nd ed.), appeared in 1870 when Menger’s Grundsätze was probably already being set up in print.
Dr. Hicks tells me that he has some reason to believe that Lardner’s diagrammatic exposition of the theory of monopoly, by which Jevons according to his own testimony was mainly influenced, derives from Cournot. On this point see Dr. Hicks’s article on Léon Walras which is to appear in one of the next issues of Econometrica.
Menger did, however, know the work of Léon Walras’s father, A.A.Walras, whom he quotes on p. 54 of the Grundsätze.
The only exception to this statement, a review of R. Auspitz and R. Lieben, Untersuchungen über die Theorie des Preises, in a daily newspaper (the Wiener Zeitung of July 8th, 1889), can hardly be called an exception, as he expressly says that he does not want to comment there on the value of mathematical exposition of economic doctrines. The general tone of the review as well as his objection to the fact that the authors in his opinion “use the mathematical method not only as a means of exposition but as a means of research” confirms the general impression that he did not consider it as particularly useful.
Anton Menger, the father of Carl, was the son of another Anton Menger, who came from an old German family that had in 1623 emigrated to Eger in Bohemia, and of Anna née Muller. His wife, Caroline, was the daughter of Josef Gerzabek, merchant in Hohenmaut, and of Therese, née Kalaus, whose ancestors can be traced in the register of baptism of Hohenmaut back into the 17th and 18th centuries respectively.
The earliest manuscript notes on the theory of value which have been preserved date from the year 1867.
Further aspects of Menger’s treatment of the general theory of value which might be mentioned are his persistent emphasis on the necessity to classify the different commodities on economic rather than technical grounds, his distinct anticipation of the Böhm-Bawerkian doctrine of the underestimation of future wants, and his careful analysis of the process by which the accumulation of capital turns gradually more and more of the originally free factors into scarce goods.
Ekonomisk Tidskrift, 1921, p. 118.
An exception should, perhaps, be made for Hack’s review in the Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft, 1872, who not only emphasized the excellence of the book and the novelty of its method of approach, but also pointed out as opposed to Menger that the economically relevant relationship between commodities and wants was not that of cause and effect but one of means and end.
It might not be altogether out of place to correct a wrong impression which may be created by A. Marshall’s assertion that between the years 1870 and 1874, when he developed the details of his theoretical position, “Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser were still lads at school or college. . . .” (Memorials of Alfred Marshall, p. 417). Both had left the University together and entered civil service in 1872, and in 1876 were already in a position to expound in reports to Knies’s seminar in Heidelberg the main elements of their later contribution.
Menger had at that time already declined the offer of professorships in Karlsruhe (1872), Basel (1873), and a little later also declined an offer of a professorship in the Zurich Polytechnic with prospects to a simultaneous professorship at the University.
“Zur Methodologie der Staats-und Sozialwissenschaften,” in Jahrbuch für Gesetz-gebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im deutschen Reich, 1883. In the reprint of this article in Schmoller’s Zur Litteraturgeschichte der Staats-und Sozialwissenschaften, 1888, the most offensive passages have been mitigated.
Originally a series of articles in (Conrad’s) Jahrbücher it has recently been reprinted as No. 11 of the Series of Reprints of Scarce Tracts in Economics and Political Science, published by the London School of Economics (1932).
V. Mataja, Der Unternehmergewinn, Vienna, 1884; G. Gross, Lehre vom Unternehmergewinn, Leipzig, 1884; E. Sax, Das Wesen und die Aufgaben der Nationalökonomie, Vienna, 1884.
Robert Meyer, Das Wesen des Einkommens, Berlin, 1887.
In the same year two other Viennese economists, R. Auspitz and R. Lieben, published their Untersuchungen über die Theorie des Preises, still one of the most important works of mathematical economics. But although they were strongly influenced by the work of Menger and his group, they build rather on the foundations laid by Cournot and Thünen, Gossen, Jevons and Walras than on the work of their compatriots.
Maffeo Pantaleoni, Principii di Economia Pura, Firenze, 1889 (2nd ed. 1894), English translation, London, 1894. An unjust remark in the Italian edition accusing Menger of plagiarism of Cournot, Gossen, Jennings, and Jevons was eliminated in the English edition and Pantaleoni later made amends by editing, with an introduction from his pen, an Italian translation of the Grundsätze, cf. C. Menger, Principii fondamentali di economia pura, con prefazione di Maffeo Pantaleoni, Imola, 1909 (first published as a supplement to the Giornale degli Economisti in 1906 and 1907 without the preface of Pantaleoni). The preface is also reprinted in the Italian translation of the second edition of the Grundsätze (to be mentioned below) which was published at Bari, 1925.
Cf. particularly J. Bonar, “The Austrian Economists and their Views on Value.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1888, and “The Positive Theory of Capital,” ibid, 1889.
The original review article appeared in (Grünhut’s) Zeitschrift für das Privatund öffentliche Recht der Gegenwart, vol. xiv, the separate pamphlet, Vienna, 1887.
See (Conrad’s) Jahrbücher fur Nationalökonomie und Statistik, N.F., vol. xiv, Jena, 1889.
In the same journal, N.F., vol. xvii, Jena, 1888. An abridged French translation, by Ch. Secrétan appeared in the same year in the Revue d’Economie Politique under the title “Contribution a la théorie du capital.”
Denkschrift über den Gang der Währungsfrage seit dem Jahre 1867.—Denkschrift über das Papiergeidwesen der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie.—Statistische Tabellen zur Währungsfrage der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie. All published by the k.k. Finanzministerium, Vienna, 1892.
Cf. Stenographische Protokolle über die vom 8. bis 17. März 1892 abgehaltenen Sitzungen der nach Wien einberufenen Währungs-Enquete-Commission. Wien, k.k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1892. Shortly before the commission met Menger had already outlined the main problems in a public lecture, “Von unserer Valuta,” which appeared in the Allgemeine Juristen Zeitung, Nos. 12 and 13 of the volume for 1892.
It is unfortunately impossible, within the scope of this introduction, to devote to this important episode in currency history the space it deserves because of its close connection with Menger and his school and because of the general interest of the problems which were discussed. It would be well worth a special study and it is very regrettable that no history of the discussions and measures of that period exists. In addition to the official publications mentioned before, the writings of Menger provide the most important material for such a study.
 “Die Valutaregulierung in Oesterreich-Ungarn,” (Conrad’s) Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, III, F., vols. iii and iv, 1892.
These articles appeared in the Wiener Abendpost (a supplement to the Wiener Zeitung) of April 30th and June 19th, 1873. As is the case with all the early journalistic work of Menger, they are anonymous.
In addition to those already mentioned there appeared in the same year a French article, “La Monnaie Mesure de la Valeur,” in the Revue d’Économie Politique (vol. vi) and an English article, “On the Origin of Money,” in the Economic Journal (vol. ii).
The reprint of the same article in vol. iv of the third edition of the Handwörterbuch (1909) contains only small stylistic changes compared with the second edition.
In consequence, almost all the living representatives of the “Austrian School,” like Professors H. Mayer, L. von Mises and J. Schumpeter, were not direct pupils of Menger but of Böhm-Bawerk or Wieser.
Grundätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre von Carl Menger, Zweite Auflage mit einem Geleitwort von Richard Schüller aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von Karl Menger, Wien, 1923. A full discussion of the changes and additions made in this edition will be found in F.X. Weiss, “Zur zweiten Auflage von Carl Mengers Grundsätzen,” Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft und Sozialpolitik, N.F., vol. iv, 1924.
Of shorter sketches those by F. von Wieser in the Neue österreichische Biographie, 1923, and by R. Zuckerkandl in the Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft, Sozialpolitik und Verwaltung, vol. xix, 1911, ought to be specially mentioned.
The two brothers were regular members of a group which met in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties almost daily in a coffee-house opposite the University and which consisted originally mainly of journalists and business men, but later increasingly of Carl Menger’s former pupils and students. It was through this circle that, at least until his retirement from the University, he mainly retained contact with, and exercised some influence on, current affairs. The contrast between the two brothers is well described by one of his most distinguished pupils, R. Sieghart. (Cf. the latter’s Die letzen Jahrzehnte einer Grossmacht, Berlin, 1932, p. 21): “Wahrlich ein seltsames und seltenes Brüderpaar die beiden Menger; Carl, Begründer der österreichischen Schule der Nationalökonomie, Entdecker des wirtschaftspsychologischen Gesetzes vom Grenznutzen, Lehrer des Kronprinzen Rudolf, in den Anfängen seiner Laufbahn auch Journalist, die grosse Welt kennend wenn auch fliehend, seine Wissenschaft revolutionierend, aber als Politiker eher konservativ; auf der anderen Seite Anton, weltfremd, seinem eigenen Fach, dem bürgerlichen Recht und Zivilprozess, bei glänzender Beherrschung der Materie immer mehr abgewandt, dafür zunehmend mit sozialen Problemen und ihrer Lösung durch den Staat befasst, glühend eingenommen von den Fragen des Sozialismus. Carl völlig klar, jederman verständlich, nach Ranke’s Art abgeklärt; Anton schwieriger zu verfolgen, aber sozialen Problemen in allen ihren Erscheinungsformen—im bürgerlichen Recht, in Wirtschaft und Staat—zugewandt. Ich habe von Carl Menger die nationalökonomische Methode gelernt, aber die Probleme, die ich mir stellte, kamen aus Anton Mengers Hand.”
The number of men who at one time or another, belonged to the more intimate circle of Menger’s pupils and later made a mark in Austrian public life is extraordinarily large. To mention only a few of those who have also contributed some form to the technical literature of economics, the names of K. Adler, St. Bauer, M. Dub, M. Ettinger, M. Garr, V. Graetz, I. von Gruber-Menninger, A. Krasny, G. Kunwald, J. Landesberger, W. Rosenberg, H. Schwarzwald, E. Schwiedland, R. Sieghart, E. Seidler and R. Thurnwald may be added to those mentioned earlier in the text.
H.R. Seager, “Economics at Berlin and Vienna,” Journal of Political Economy, vol. i, March, 1893, reprinted in Labor and other Essays, New York, 1931.
Cf. V. Graetz, “Carl Menger,” Neues Wiener Tagblatt, February 27th, 1921.
Katalog der Carl Menger-Bibliothek in der Handelsuniverstät Tokio. Erster Teil. Sozialwissenschaften. Tokio, 1926 (731 pp).