Saturday , July 4 2020
Home / Tag Archives: Economic History

Tag Archives: Economic History

Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty: The New Republic

I’ve been waiting to read the fifth volume of Murray Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty for over 30 years.  Now my former student Patrick Newman, professor at Florida Southern College, has miraculously undeleted this “lost work.”  Patrick’s quasi-archaeological efforts are nothing short of amazing, but how does the actual book hold up? In the first four volumes of Conceived in Liberty, Rothbard tells the story of the American colonies’ rise, rebellion, and victory...

Read More »

How “socialist” was national socialism?

How “socialist” was National Socialism? In The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek considers “The Socialist Roots of Nazism.” Bruce Caldwell has written extensively on the circumstances at the time Hayek was writing what today is his most renowned work. Hayek wanted to refute the view, which gained dominance in the Thirties, that German Nazism was in essence a kind of capitalist reaction against rising socialism. The “socialism” bit in “National socialism” was seldom...

Read More »

Five Books: The Butcher’s Bill of the Soviet Experience

Communism kills. 100 million lost souls in the 20th century, not from war or natural causes, but from state execution.  Let that sink in – 100 MILLION. OK, now back to scholarly recommendations for books to learn about and understand this experience.  Obviously, the classic work in this regard is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (originally published in 1973). The impact of this work cannot be overstated. And, it should be read by every student of...

Read More »

Fontana on Emergency COVID Measures

One day, hopefully, we’ll calmly reason about what our experiences with COVID-19 have brought us. Or maybe not: history’s lessons are sometimes very difficult to learn. Biancamaria Fontana has a learned and insightful piece on the blog of the Centre Walras Pareto at the University of Lausanne. Fontana, an accomplished historian of ideas, writes on the French Decree of 1793 known as “loi des suspects” which she describes as a “forerunner of the contemporary Patriot...

Read More »

Five (More) Books: Revisionist Accounts of the Soviet Experience

In my previous posts, I offered recommendations for reading on the Russian Revolution and the Soviet economy, and the Ethnography of Soviet life. As you can glean from my recommendations for reading so far, I have stressed learning about the dysfunctions and dystopian aspects of the system.  I will come back to that in my final post in this series. But right now I do think it is valuable to also acknowledge alternative perspectives. During the 1970s, a “revisionist...

Read More »

Five (More) Books: Economic, Political and Social Ethnography of Soviet Life

In my previous two posts, I offered recommendations for reading on the Russian Revolution and the Soviet economy. Today, I’d like to turn our attention everyday life in the Soviet Union. My most cherished comment on one of my books dealing with the Soviet system was from then Department Chair of Economics at Moscow State University, who upon reading my discussion of the contrast between how the system was supposed to work and how it really worked wrote to me to tell...

Read More »

Five Books on the Soviet Economy

In my previous post, I listed the first five of my twenty-five recommended books on the Soviet experience. That list focused specifically on the Russian Revolution. Today, my selections explore the Soviet economy. The Soviet Economy The classic account of Soviet economic history is found in Alec Nove’s An Economic History of the USSR (originally published in 1969).  It is almost impossible to imagine embarking on a study of the Soviet economy without beginning with...

Read More »

Will we have a depression?

Tim Duy has a recent post that looks at the risk of an economic depression. I mostly agree with his comments, but would like to slightly reframe a few of his points: This isn’t a Great Depression yet but instead a Great Suppression. There was nothing “broken” in the economy in February in the sense of massive imbalances that threatened to be unwound over the course of years. With nothing broken, the economy wants to get back to work and will as soon as we let it. You...

Read More »

Understanding Soviet Socialism: (Twenty) Five Books

I was challenged with listing 5 books to improve one’s understanding of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experience.  I hesitated at first because that is such a big subject with such varying views, and while I have my own very strong priors, I didn’t think it was right to just list books that would reveal those. Though, of course, any listing would. But then I saw my good friend Steve Horwitz “cheated” on the assignment he was tasked with and listed 10 books. ...

Read More »

Richard Timberlake on the gold standard

I was saddened to see that Richard Timberlake passed away. A few weeks ago I read his excellent book on the Great Depression, coauthored with Thomas Humphrey. One Timberlake observation always stuck in my mind. I don’t recall the exact quote, but he once said something to the effect that there was no disgrace in devaluing the dollar in 1933, the disgrace was devaluing the dollar at a time when the US had by far the world’s largest gold reserves. I had never thought of...

Read More »