2013년 3월 17일 일요일

[발췌: Paul Samuelson's] A few remembrances of Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992)

출처: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 69 (2009) 1–4
자료: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268108001352#

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※ 발췌 (excerpt):

Hayek was the 7th to receive the Bank of Sweden's new Nobel Prize in economics. In my judgment his was a worthy choice. And yet in the 1974 senior common rooms of Harvard and MIT, the majority of the inhabitants there seemed not to even know the name of this new laureate. (By contrast, the following year when I was in Stockholm to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the original five Nobel Prizes, it was my vague impression that the Royal Swedish Academy electors paid greater deference to Hayek than to their own native son Myrdal. Some majority friends on the election committee must have known that they were making two opposite ideologues furious over their being ironically paired.)

Rise and Fall of 1931 Prices and Production

There were good historical reasons for fading memories of Hayek within the mainstream last half of the 20th century economist fraternity. In 1931, Hayek's ^Prices and Production^ had enjoyed an ultra-short Byronic success. In retrospect hindsight tells us that its mumbo-jumbo about the period of production grossly misdiagnosed the macroeconomics of the 1927-1931 (and the 1931-2007) historical scene.

When a centrist like me says this about an extremist like Hayek, readers have a right to reserve judgment. More weighty was the later opinion to the same effect of the conservative Lionel Robbins. It was Robbins who had brought Hayek out of Austria to the LE. It was Robbins who wrote a 1934 Hayekian book entitled ^The Great Depression^. Not so very long after 1934, Robbins repudiated his own early take, saying in effect, I must have been a bit loony at the time.

Aside from the substance of Hayek's(1931) text, part of his short-lived popularity came from the fact that many in England, annoyed by Maynard Keynes's unorthodox testimonies before the 1930 Macmillan Committee, hoped that Hayek would be the White Night to slay the Black Dragon.

Productivity and reputation of Keynes itself fluctuated in Kondratief waves His 1930 two-volume ^Treatise on Money^ posterity judged to have been an anti-climatic flop. But the deeper the drop into the 1929-1935 Great Depression, the more rapidly came the recognition of Keynes as top dog in the 20th century. (In 1932 as 16-year-old freshman, I asked my Chicago tutor, Eugene Staley: "Who is the world's greatest economist?" He answered, "John Maynard Keynes." For once I never became tempted to question the authority of my many great teachers.)

Gentle Charles Darwin had Thomas Huxley to be his bulldog for evolution. Sraffa(1932) must have been editor Keynes's bulldog to annihilate ^Prices and Production^, and its author. I never much admired Sraffa's methodological contentions in that debate but at least his item did have the merit of introducing for the first time Sraffa's novel concept of "the ^own^ rate of interest" in terms of corn or rye or caviar.

For my money more to the point was Richard Kahn's simple oral 1932 statement: If Hayek believes that the spending of newly printed currency on employment and consumption will ^worsen^ our current terrible depression, then Hayek is a nut. Alas, one fatal error eclipses a few elementary true truth à la Mises and Hayek: Easy money ^now^ often does entail tighter money ^later^ which will come as a surprise to uncompleted projects and new contingent contemplated investment projects.

Hayek himself, naively, diagnosed the fall of his 1931 opus as due to the fact that his period-of-production mutterings there did not do full justice to the not-yet-completed Austrian theory of capital (Menger, Bohm et al.).

Therefore, heroically but hopelessly, he wasted years on a task that he was grossly under-equipped to handle. Hayek's (1941) ^The Pure Theory of Capital^ was not stillborn. But it was a pebble thrown into the pool of economic science that seemingly left nary a ripple.

Hayek's grave defeat in the early 1930s predisposed him in the WWII years to write what he entitled, ^The Road to Serfdom^(1944). I will postpone my take on that bestseller.

So you might say Hayek as an economist fell into what physicists call a black hole. Wisely, libertarian Hayek turned away to weighty constitutional and philosophical interests. And from his pen came commendable items on history of economics doctrines. (One example is Hayek's biographical item on the love affair and marriage between John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor.)

The Jewel in Economist Hayek's Crown: Information Economics

Just prior to Hayek’s departure from post World War II mainstream economics came what must be hailed as his greatest important contribution to economic science. It can be well understood if I make reference to the famous debate between Lerner–Lange and Ludwig von Mises (1935) over the role of the supply-and-demand mechanism in a socialist state. Lerner (1934), as well as Lange and Taylor (1938) quasi-independently, suggested that playing the game of parametric supply–demand auctioning could optimally organize a socialist society that had evolved beyond historic capitalism. Arguably this general notion might be traced back to Adam Smith’s legendary Invisible Hand, which led society unconsciously to achieve the maximal “general good.” Individual avarice, under market checks and balances, achieved this happy state. A more sophisticated version of the same idea came in the 1890s from Pareto (1896–97) and Barone (1908), long before Arrow-Debreu breakthroughs. Pareto deduced the mathematical theorem that the determinative equations of Walrasian general equilibrium mimicked exactly the maximizing welfare conditions for utopias. ( ... ... )

The Road to "Exactly What?"

The history of economic science is distinguishable from the history of ideas. Adam Smith is little remembered by the lay public for how and whether he got right the pricing of corn and the rent of land. Smith's thumb-nail popular fame comes from his glorification of free enterprise and market capitalism.

So it is with Friedrich Hayek's celebrity as author of the bestseller The Road to Serfdom. It was written in London, so to speak on a bus driver's holiday, during the first years of WWII when it author was readjusting himself to the popular rejection of his 1931 Prices and Production. As he has written many times, the book was a political polemic against the evolution ^away^ from pre-1929 market capitalism ^toward^ the cruel totalitarian state, in which almost certainly the worst type leaders will forge up to the top. (Laboristic Fabian socialists in Britain and Franklin Roosevelt New Deal legislation in America, by innuendo and coherent argument, were believed to be the vulnerable stepping stone toward the serfdom(s) already realized in Lenin-Stalin Russia and Adlof Hitler Nazi Germany.)

Biography is important for the understanding of a scholar's writing. Hayek himself was the son of a Viennese professor of botany. For a century his ancestors, moving from Bohemia to Vienna, were supporters of Emperor Franz Josef's Austro-Hungay Habsburg empire. (Hence, the respectable honorific "von" in Hayek's own name.)

On Hayek's return from Austria's military defeat by the Allied Italian army, Hayek reports a short infatuation with "socialism." Like a common cold its incidence must have been brief. He has acknowledged the influence of Ludwig von Mises to convert him to his lifelong libertarian quasi-laissez faire market capitalism. Hayek, along with Mises and Milton Friedman and other libertarians, attended periodic meetings of the Mt. Pelerin Society. (Once it had been suggested to be named the Acton Society, in honor of Lord Acton, who was thought to have coined the phrase: "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." However, Acton's early role in Vatican debates disqualified him for the honor. Having spent a lifetime near libertarians, I can confirm that they are an individualistic idiosyncratic bunch. For example, my conservative mentor Gottfried Haberler was defined by Mises to be a "communist." The number of Mt. Pelerin resignations never quite reached the number of its new members.)

Anthropological experts in "content analysis," focusing their microscopes on the Hayek text(1944), might score its impact to be traceable to both (1) its version of history and (2) its projection of the future. Post Bismark social legislation and Weimar unorthodoxies allegedly bred Hitler's horror state and horror camps (sic). When Frank Knight peer reviewed Hayek's book for an American edition, he blessed its message but demurred at its shallow handling of history (see Hayek, 2007).

Two-thirds of a century after the book got written, hindsight confirms how inaccurate its innuendo about the ^future^ turned out to be. Consider only Sweden's fig-leaf middle way. As I write in 2007, Sweden and other Scandinavian places have somewhat lowered the fraction of GDP they use to devote through government. But still they are the most "socialistic' by Hayek's crude definition. Where are their horror camps? Have the vilest elements risen there to absolute power? When reports are compiled on "measurable happiness," do places like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway best epitomize serfdom?

No. Of course not. American conservatives like my old friend the late David McCord Wright, confronted by such counter evidence would say to me up to his last years: "Paul, just you wait." I never tired of waiting.

Actually, let the content-analyst anthropologist go on to put her microscope on the many forwards to The Road to Serfdom quoted in forewords by the late Milton Friedman (see Hayek, 1944). She will conclude that the "serfdoms" believed to have occurred in accordance with Hayek's 1940 crystal ball are not at all the Nazi-Burma-Mao-Castro totalitarian catastrophies. Instead ^they are the mixed economies that have flourished almost everywhere in the post-1945 years!^

The Hayek I met on various occasionsㅡat the LSE, at the University of Chicago, in Stockholm(1945), and Lake Constance-Lindau Nobel summer conferencesㅡdefinitely bemoaned progressive income taxation, state-provided medical care and retirement pensions, fiat currencies remote from gold and subject to discretionary policy decisions by central bank and treasury agents. Not only is this what constitutes his predicted serfdoms, do notice that when the same anthropologist scans Milton Friedman's various admiring foreword, her verdict will be that Hayek and Friedman were in essential agreement on what their single verbal definitions are connoting.[2]

I can bear witness that, for 20th century professional economists.[,] Milton Friedman was infinitely more important for turning economists toward conservatism than Hayek. For the lay public maybe Hayek may have been more important?

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