Introduction to Austrian Economics: Reading Essentials
Interested in learning more about the only school of economic thought with the role of the entrepreneur at the core of its philosophy?
Don’t know where to start?
Here are 5 easy-to-read Austrian Economics essentials to get you started.
1.) I, Pencil
I, Pencil was the very first literature I read regarding the free market principles behind the school of Austrian economic thought. Written by Leonard Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, I, Pencil is a compelling and entertaining essay written from the viewpoint of a single pencil’s family tree.
Through its story of production, Read brilliantly outlines how even the mightiest of central planners fail to have the knowledge of how to produce a product as seemingly simple as a pencil.
By the end of the essay, the reader understands the importance of the entrepreneur and keeping the means of production in the hands of the market, not the state.
This is the perfect primer to more complex Austrian economic theory including the Economic Calculation Problem detailed by Ludwig von Mises in his essay Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, price theory, and Mengerian theories like the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility.
2.) Economics In One Lesson
Henry Hazliit’s Economics In One Lesson dispels many popular, misunderstood narratives in basic economics. He uncovers many of the fallacies behind economic myths including those associated with automation and government intervention in the ‘unfair’ free market. His monumental book stands as a reasoned defense of Capitalism and the entrepreneur and is one of the most-bought books regarding introductory themes in Austrian economics.
Economics In One Lesson opens by explaining French philosopher Frederic Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy, and why destruction of property doesn’t correlate to prosperity due to the seen and unseen. While this way of thinking may seem obvious to those who have even the slightest of economic understanding, this philosophy is often encouraged by state officials. Like clockwork, they adopt a ‘spend your way to prosperity’ mentality when destruction of all kinds takes place. Though what is seen is an artificial pump in economic spending, what isn’t seen until it’s often too late is destruction of purchasing power via the devaluation of the dollar. Due to their generally Keynesian view of economics, they don’t realize prosperity is created through savings and accumulation of wealth, not consumption.
Economics In One Lesson is available on Amazon Prime.
The book is also available for free at Mises Institute (isn’t Voluntaryism grand?).
3.) Mises Institute
Oftentimes when reading, it’s great to have supplemental material available to gain understanding of specific economic subjects built into broader subjects you are reading. Mises Institute has an unrivaled backlog of Austrian economic reading material on every subject you can think of. The search bar at the top of the page allows you to research any specific topic you’re interested in. Returned search results feature free articles, ebooks, and podcasts by experts in economics, philosophy, history and more.
They have a great Store Library you can shop as well, featuring work by Austrian economic greats such as Menger, Mises, and Rothbard. They also have books written by experts like Richard Ebeling, Peter Klein, and Lew Rockwell, Jr. Though you can order physical copies of books from their store, many books have available free downloads.
Their Mises Wire feature also brings you commentary on current events from an Austrian perspective including inflation, the Federal Reserve, economic policy, and the housing market.
Don’t forget to subscribe to their monthly publication The Austrian. It’s free as well.
It really doesn’t get much better than Mises Institute.
4.) An Introduction to Austrian Economics
This concise book by retired Wake Forest University professor Thomas C. Taylor presents an easy-to-grasp explanation of Austrian economic theories such as Subjectivism and Marginal Utility, all geared towards readers new to this particular economic school.
This was another book I read early on that helped me have a couple lightbulb moments when I first began studying Austrian economics. To give some context to the theory, he also goes into some of the history behind the Austrian school as well.
An Introduction to Austrian Economics is available at the Mises Store.
5.) “Austrian Economics vs. Keynesian and Monetarist Macroeconomics”- Video
If you prefer videos over books, Mises Media on Youtube has a ton of content. One video lecture in particular by economics professor Dr. Jonathan Newman highlights the differences between Austrian Economics and Keynesian and Monetarist Macroeconomics.
He lays the groundwork for different schools of thought and highlights their unique theories and differences.
After watching the lecture, you’ll have a good grasp on the main framework of Austrian economic thought as well as its rivals.
Bonus: Per Bylund on Twitter
For straight Austrian Economic fire in 280 characters or less, look no further than professor and writer Dr. Per Bylund on Twitter. You will learn an ample amount by just sitting down and reading his tweets about entrepreneurship and Austrian economic theory applied to business and consumers. He’s very active on the platform and posts daily commentary and educational material.
He breaks down complicated economic theory into examples and analogies that are easy to understand.
He’s also endlessly entertaining and witty :)
Follow him on Twitter here.
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