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Summer 2010 at the Mises Academy

May 21, 2010

Tags Austrian Economics Overview

Mises Academy Summer 2010 

It began years ago as a dearly held dream of the Mises Institute: an all-online school for Misesian scholarship that would break down all the artificial barriers erected by mainstream academia between the curious and the learned. That dream has become a reality this spring as economist Robert Murphy teaches upwards of 200 students the ins-and-outs of the Mises — Hayek business-cycle theory, delivering expert lectures and answering, over a live video feed, hours upon hours of questions.

And it continues this summer, with three big names in the world of Austrian economics: Doug French, T. Hunt Tooley, and Peter Klein.

Doug French's course Tulips to Plywood Palaces: Bubbles in Theory and History (June 1 through August 2) is the closest thing possible to studying economic bubbles under Murray Rothbard himself, because French wrote his master's thesis on the subject under the guidance of Rothbard. French writes that when he approached Rothbard about being his advisor

Murray welcomed me with open arms. He proceeded to rattle off about 20 sources on speculative bubbles to get me started and away we went.

French's master's thesis, published as Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Money Supply, has become one of the most important Austrian resources on the topic. Now, just as French mastered the subject under the tutelage of Rothbard, you can master the subject under the guidance of French.

Tulips to Plywood Palaces: Bubbles in Theory and History (Course Description)

Doug French, president of the Mises Institute, will teach a nine-week course, June 1 — August 2, 2010, based on his book Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Supply of Money (Mises Institute 2009). Applying the Austrian theory of money, banking, and business cycles, he will examine the economic, social, and cultural signs of bubbles, examine their causes and the responses, and deal with the spectacular rise and fall of housing and others markets in our own time. He covers Tulipmania, the South Sea Bubble, the Mississippi bubble, John Law's monetary theories, and more.

He will offer a narrative of each event with a special focus on the cause and effect. The conventional view is that bubbles in history represent a kind of mass hysteria rooted in animal spirits or irrational exuberance — and that each represents a failing of the market to rationally stabilize investment. French will examine the monetary angle to show that bubbles have a more fundamental relationship to monetary inflation.

T. Hunt Tooley will be teaching the course The Great Hyperinflations in World History from June 15 to August 16. In his Mises Daily article "Teaching Inflation," Professor Tooley shows us just how much thought and care he put into designing the course, when he taught a non-online version of it last year at Austin College.

Pedagogically speaking, the only problem I had as I prepared for the course was deciding what I would have to leave out. The cases leapt to mind: the German hyperinflation, of course (modern Germany is my primary field); well, for that matter, every belligerent power during World War I (my special field too); without a doubt the French Revolution (best of times for the state, its minions, and well-connected stockjobbers, worst of times for nearly everyone else); Lincoln and the greenbacks, naturally; Nixon's blaming of housewives for inflation and the great stagflation; the great debasement of Henry VIII, obviously; and the John Law episode in France; but many more, mostly lesser known, cases too.

"I just wanted to throw out a quick plug for the Mises Academy.  We're now into our fourth week of Understanding the Business Cycle taught by Dr. Robert P. Murphy and my experience has been great so far. Dr. Murphy's online lectures are easy to follow, entertaining, and have no problem holding your attention the entire time."– Jeremy Davis

And there would have to be understanding of the processes too, through the theoretical literature. And there is of course the whole range of Keynesianism to comprehend, since you can't teach 20th-century inflation without including the cheerleaders! But the class would only be a semester long. So much inflation, so little time!

The course turned out to be a great success and perfectly timed too.

This theoretical section I designed for the first three weeks of the course, but on Sunday, September 13, in the very midst of our crash course, the crash itself actually began happening: Lehmann Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America. The students of my class had already read, among other things, their first piece of Human Action. They were — on that fateful weekend — reading the following for class on Tuesday: Henry Hazlitt's "What You Should Know About Inflation," a long excerpt from Human Action, chapter 20, "Interest, Credit Expansion, and the Trade Cycle," and the Wikipedia entry on "Keynesian Economics."

On Monday, we all came to class and just stared at each other for a few minutes. Actually, once we began to sift through the news on banks falling, loans gone bad, etc., each student confessed that he (they were all guys) had felt something like an intellectual god over the weekend, or at least someone with an Olympic view in terms of understanding everything going on.

Ironically, while the crash was happening, I was having a mountaintop experience in the classroom.

The recent vertigo-inducing dip in the market gave the public a glimpse of just how illusory the Obama–Bernanke "recovery" is. And it's likely to be just the beginning of the house of cards crashing down all over again. If it happens this summer, anyone taking French's or Tooley's courses (or both — Mises Academy live sessions won't overlap, so concurrent enrollments are fine!) will likely have just such an "Olympic view" and "mountaintop experience."

The Great Hyperinflations in World History (Course Description)

This summer course runs from June 15–August 16, 2010. Hunt Tooley, professor of History at Austin College, a renown expert on war, revolution, and the rise of the total state, is the author of The Western Front (on World War I) and many scholarly articles. He is also an expert on the relationship between hyperinflation and political upheaval. This course, taught from the perspective of a historian, deals with the definition and meaning of inflation, and then takes a march through European and American history to look at famous cases of hyperinflation and its aftermath, with a special focus on the 20th century and its wars, depressions, and political shifts. It features weekly lectures, forums, online readings and media, and much more. Grading and quizzes not required. All digital materials are provided as part of course.

And finally we have Peter Klein. Klein is a veritable super-star in Austrian circles. As his Mises Institute faculty bio states,

Peter G. Klein is Associate Professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Missouri and Associate Director of the Contracting and Organizations Research Institute. His research focuses on the boundaries and internal organization of the firm, with applications to diversification, innovation, entrepreneurship, and financial institutions. He taught previously at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Georgia, and the Copenhagen Business School, and served as a Senior Economist with the Council of Economic Advisers. He is also a former Associate Editor of The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. He lectures regularly at the Mises University and other Mises Institute events.

Klein received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is editor of two books and author of many scholarly articles and book chapters. See here for his complete vita and here for his website at the University of Missouri.

Check out his blog, Organizations and Markets.

"This is the most useful and well presented educational experience I've had in my 59 years. I will be enrolled in at least one or two courses for the rest of my life if possible. Keep the courses coming! I plan to complete the equivalent of a Master's Degree in Austrian Economics if the Academy is able to offer enough material. I hope accreditation is planned but if not, so be it. The material is fundamental and answers many questions I've wrestled with for years. Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard over the years to make this happen!!!"– Lee Sutterfield

Klein's course, Entrepreneurship in the Capitalist Economy: An Austrian Approach to the Firm (June 7 through August 7) will be an exploration of the topics covered in his new book The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets. While it is vitally important to understand the macroeconomic maladies covered in French's and Tooley's courses, it is also essential to understand the "light side" of the "economic force," and how markets, steered by that expert helmsman, the entrepreneur, can, if left to themselves, provide a horn of plenty of goods and services for all mankind. Klein's new book is a huge milestone in Austrian scholarship, as Jeffrey Tucker explains:

There are many reasons to be excited about Klein’s book. Guido Hulsmann mentioned in passing a few years ago just how rare it is for a new book to appear that focuses on pure theory in the Austrian tradition.

Guido estimated that it happens about every ten to fifteen years. There are several reasons: (a) writing pure theory is hard, (b) the Austrian theoretical apparatus old and well developed and thereby difficult to add to in a substantive way, (c) with something so well developed, there is always a greater risk of making errors than of making genuine progress.

So The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur is important in that respect. It is something of an event: a real book on theory.

Imagine learning about the latest important advance in Austrian theory, straight from the very scholar who accomplished that advance!

Entrepreneurship in the Capitalist Economy: An Austrian Approach to the Firm (Course Description)

This course begins on June 7 and runs through August 7, 2010. It is designed for business students of all ages, and features lectures, quizzes, online readings, and more. The subject is entrepreneurship, one of the fastest growing fields within economics, management, finance, and even law. It's also becoming a popular subject at colleges and universities. Entrepreneurship courses, programs, and activities are springing up not only in business schools, but also in colleges of arts and sciences, engineering, education, social work, and even fine arts.

Mises Academy

Surprisingly, however, while the entrepreneur is fundamentally an economic agent — the "driving force of the market," in Mises's phrase — modern economics maintains an ambivalent relationship with entrepreneurship. Klein's course, based on his new book, sorts it all out toward the goal of a realistic understanding.

Economics will be in the forefront of everybody's minds in the coming months and years. Arm yourself this summer at the Mises Academy with the intellectual tools to answer the many questions your friends, family, and co-workers will have.

Also be sure to sign up early for the following exciting fall courses: Principles of Economics with Robert Murphy (September 7 through November 19) and The New Deal: History, Economics, and Law with Tom Woods (September 6 through November 1).

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