The History of Economic Thought: From Marx to Hayek

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3. The Pre-Austrians

The History of Economic Thought: From Marx to Hayek

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01/13/2006Murray N. Rothbard

Richard Cantillon was quite Misesian before Mises. He wrote of utility theory and the entrepreneur’s uncertainty in the 1970s. Cantillon was a great money practitioner. He became a bank and banker to the Jacobite Stuart line and to John Law who launched paper money inflation.

Turgot became finance minister in 1774, but laissez-faire ideas failed. Turgot was Rothbard’s favorite character in the history of thought. He wrote well under time pressure. He wrote of wealth and capital theory and even of Austrian time preference theory and the law of diminishing returns.

Cantillon and Turgot preceded Adam Smith, but were not mentioned by Smith. Smith made waste and rubbish of 2,000 years of economic thought. The French theorists were lost. Smith deviated from laissez-faire in practically everything. Malthus got his anti-population stuff from Smith.

Hume was a great writer while a confused pre-Friedmanite thinker. He thought fractional reserve banking was fraud.

John Stuart Mill originated much of the Ricardian system like the law of comparative advantage. Mill was one of the inventors of libertarian class analysis which proclaims that the only class conflict comes from the state. Mill and Marshall reestablish Ricardianism. That really ushers in the 20th century.

The third in a series of six lectures on the History of Economic Thought.


Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard made major contributions to economics, history, political philosophy, and legal theory. He combined Austrian economics with a fervent commitment to individual liberty.

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