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Faculty Spotlight Interview: Jesús Huerta de Soto

  • Jesús Huerta de Soto
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04/02/2010

Jesús Huerta de Soto, Professor of Political Economy at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain, is Spain’s leading Austrian economist. As an author, translator, publisher, and teacher, he also ranks among the world’s most active ambassadors for classical liberalism. He is the author of a Spanish work on economic calculation and the Austrian method, a treatise on money and banking, the introduction to the new Spanish edition of Human Action, and articles in monetary and history of thought journals in four languages, including The Review of Austrian Economics.

 

How and when did you come about Austrian economics?
When I was 16 years old, I took a very strong liking to economics generally. I would comb the bookstores for every economics text I could find. I thought I had read them all until I went to a book fair one day and saw one I didn’t know about. It was Human Action. I like books the thicker the better, so I immediately bought a copy. I was amazed at its power from the outset.

One of my father’s friends found me reading Mises one day, and invited me to join the Reig seminar. They were surprised that I knew the book as well or better than the other members. Next I read Man, Economy, and State. Then over the years I steadily increased my knowledge.

What attracted you to economics at such a young age?
My family business is life insurance, which is the only trait I have in common with John Maynard Keynes who in the 1930s chaired the National Mutual Life Assurance Society of London. This is a very traditional business, having evolved for 200 years without any state intervention. Working with my father I naturally became interested in money, finance, and economic institutions. I wanted to be an actuary. I was very good at mathematics.

How did Austrian economics change your worldview?
[I] began to realize that what works for actuaries, which deals with life and death probabilities, cannot work in economic theory because there are no constants in human action. There is creativity, change, choice, and discovery, but there are no fixed correspondents that allow the creation of functions.

Have any economists ever been declared saints?
Two scholastics, in fact. Two economists among the scholastics became saints: San Bernardino of Siena and his great student San Antonino of Florence. Let’s hope they will not be the last.

What do you see as the greatest threat to liberty today?
Statism.

How do you go about introducing your students to Austrian economics?
Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action is the required textbook.

How has Austrian economics influenced the modern Catholic church?
The Catholic church is like a huge transatlantic ocean liner. If you turn the wheel to the right, the boat moves slowly, slowly, and eventually begins to change direction.

There is a powerful Catholic group in Spain called Opus Dei. It is very close to the Pope and it is very pro-business. Someone in the order read the works of Hayek, saw him as very pro business, and sent out a message to the entire organization: Opus Dei should back the Austrians.

All of a sudden, all my books were being read by everyone in the order, and I began to lecture to their priests and members.

What are your hobbies?
Golfing and yachting.

What are your favorite films and/or theatrical works?
Star Trek and all of Shakespeare.

What is your favorite literary work?
Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes.

What music do you enjoy the most?
Franz Peter Schubert and Johannes Brahms.

Can you think of an artwork that symbolizes or depicts human action?
LOSA roja (image to the left).
 
Books by Jesús Huerta de Soto:
- Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles (Mises Institute) (Find it here)
- The Austrian School: Market Order and Entrepreneurial Creativity (Edward Elgar) (Find it here)
- The Theory of Dynamic Efficiency (Routledge) (Find it here)
- Socialism, Economic Calculation And Entrepreneurship (Edward Elgar)

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