Jeff Deist discusses the major contributions of Carl Menger (1840–1921), founder of the Austrian school of economics. Sharing credit with Jevons and Walras, Menger initiated the Marginalist Revolution in economic thought with the 1871 publication of his book, Principles of Economics. Classical economists had been stumped by the “paradox of value,” but Menger solved it by focusing on the utility of the marginal unit, or what we call marginal utility.
Menger also developed the notion of imputation of value from the consumer good all the way back through the factors of production to the highest “order” of goods, the concept of voluntary exchange coming about because of unequal valuations of the goods being traded, and an explanation of the origin of money arising spontaneously as individuals accept a more saleable good in exchange even if it’s not the good they ultimately desire. These and several other major contributions are highlighted in the episode.