Posts tagged World Economy
Israel brought up some good questions related to my first post, so I thought I’d address those here.
The first thing, “aren’t there Youtube videos that summarize these required readings and can’t we get Greek history from movies like Troy?”
I’m sure there are Youtube videos that explain some of what these works cover, but probably not systematically. The youtube might be on “Socialism vs. Capitalism” and might cover some of the points that Mises makes in his books, but I doubt that there are Youtube videos made as summaries of these works. I have an idea on this, however, and will let you know as I think it through a bit more.
This also fits into the whole “the medium is the message” debate. I tend to side with people like Postman and tend to think that it is good to actually read things. My mental skills have degenerated to the point that I find it extremely hard to listen/watch anything on my computer for a long period of time (more than 10 or 15 minutes) without being distracted by browsing Facebook, Mises.org, etc…so I like having the discipline of having to read a book because if I’m on Facebook instead, I can’t say “well, I’m studying too…” which I can argue if I’m listening to something. So I just prefer reading.
Then Israel asked if it would be good to do any writing along with the reading. Yes, I didn’t mention in the previous post that I do take notes on whatever read. I’m infamous for being a speed-reader, in a negative way, in that I read so fast I don’t get anything from the book. So it has been a struggle to slow down, but if I’m taking notes, I am forced to actually “digest” what I’m reading. However…some books are so good, I want to write down every sentence in my notes, which means it takes me forever to finish reading it because I’m essentially copying the text into my notes…lol…
If I’m writing on paper and not typing, this is how I take notes. I use my own version of the Cornell system of note-taking. I’m not sure how the original was meant to be, maybe what I do is close to that, but I’m not sure. I divide my page into two columns, the right one being slightly wider than the left one. This right column is where I write all the details, quotes, numbers, data, etc…and on the right side I write the summary of what point I’m trying to remember. For instance, on the left side I might write, “WWII didn’t end Great Depression” and on the right side I would put “GDP rose more dramatically after the war ended than when it began” (don’t quote me on that one…I don’t think it is correct b/c gov’t spending is included in GDP, so that would have decreased, but real measures of prosperity would have increased after WWII) and any numbers or references like, “Murray Rothbard’s The Great Depression.” Why do I do it that way? I keep notes because I like to look at them again if I’m studying that subject again. Having a summary on the left side makes it easy for me to skim through pages of notes and find exactly what I need without actually having to read every single line. I also use the far left margin found on most lined paper to put page numbers. If pages 20 through 25 are on “WWII didn’t end the Great Depression” I would write that down on the far left. I also found that with traditional notes, if I wrote line after line after line of notes, there was no room to insert additional comments afterwards. With this two-column approach, the summary on the left takes up much less space than the details on the right, so if necessary, I can come back and write on the left and just connect it to the details with an arrow. And speaking of arrows…I use them a lot. I use arrows to show what sentences are connected and how each step is ordered. Sometimes I go a little overboard with my arrows, but hey, it isn’t the worst thing I could do.
So generally, when taking notes on a book, I try identify ahead of time what I’m trying to get out of my reading. And most of the time my goal is to have a summary of the book for my own future reference. So I have in mind that I need to document where in any given book an important idea is discussed. My notes narrow it down to a specific book like “The Great Depression” but by putting a page number or chapter down, I don’t have to read the book all over again to find that section. I also like condensing any examples or illustrations in the book down to a sentence or less, just enough to trigger my memory because examples are very helpful in remembering a concept. I will also sometimes try to come up with my own example to further embed the information in my mind.
Last question, “what are the questions on the quiz like?” I don’t want to give everything away, but I’ll say what I remember. Some of the questions are historical, like “what was the first book Mises wrote?” Some were kind of tricky cause and effect things, “if A happened in area B, what would be the effect on the entire economy?” or something like that, and they weren’t straightforward “If the gov’t prints more money, what happens to the economy?” All of the questions are multiple-choice, but among some of the choices there are very fine nuances and they aren’t like, “If the gov’t prints money what happens? A) economy prospers B) economy experiences inflation” so you have to read everything really carefully. And some of the questions are just general economic theory definitions, “what is ________?” and so forth. What I didn’t know (thanks to my homeschool education…probably the only drawback to being self-taught) is that especially with multiple choice tests, you can ask the professor about the questions if you don’t know what it means. My friend did that after I finished my test, so I know that at least last year it was allowed, and that would have been really nice for me, because some of the questions were rather unclear.
Hope that helps all y’all thinking about taking the exam…I haven’t decided yet if I will. Also hope to see you there…at Mises U 2011!! :)
The Mises Institute strongly encourages all students attending Mises U to be familiar with the Required Readings found here. Whether I go to Mises U or not (still hoping it will work out!) I will try do the readings. Last year I wrote out a schedule for getting through all the books, and I thought I would post my updated version for the students I know who wondering how to tackle it. Anyone else is welcome to read through all this too. :)
Theoretically I would start the reading in March. However…that didn’t happen this year. But my schedule starts in March anyways. These are just suggestions and are based on what I was doing last year. I’ll be changing this to fit my life this year. I just hope it helps you to come up with a definite plan so we aren’t trying frantically to read everything the day before Mises U starts, a plight I narrowly escaped last year. :)
Why: The first reading is pretty much the basics. It is good to start with this. Hoppe’s book is a nice complement to it because 1) it is a little deeper reading and 2) it really shows exactly why the Austrian school is different than all the other schools; not so much in what they teach but in how they obtain knowledge. This helped me understand why the Austrians are so much more awesome than everyone else ;)
Why: The Mises work, as I recall, builds on and complements the Hoppe reading from March. The Gordon piece is a natural progression from “What is Austrian Economics?” in March.
Why: From “What is Austrian Economics?” David Gordon focused on the history of it and now the Taylor essay/book is explaining what makes Austrian economic theory different from other schools. I found the first few pages of “Realism and Abstraction in Economics” to be totally fascinating and I absolutely loved the beginning. As a side note, there are some books that I struggle through at the beginning (like Moby Dick) but end up enjoying. Other times I start a work enjoying it, but then get lost by the end. That’s what happened last year with Long’s work, no offense at all to him. I’m hopeful that this year I might pick up a bit more of it. But it is balanced with the more purely economic Taylor book and that helps.
- “Liberty and Property” – Mises
- “Middle of the Road Policy Leads to Socialism” – Mises
- “What Has the Government Done With Our Money?” – Rothbard
- “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth” - Mises
Why: I graduated from highschool in May of last year, and so obviously had much more time in June for reading which is why I allocated more work for the summer months. That would also be the case for any college students. The Mises works listed this month are fairly short and they are balanced by an easier (but longer) Rothbard book. As you probably noticed, all the Mises essays have to do with socialism and private ownership of property. I haven’t read the Rothbard one yet (I think they added that since last year…or maybe I read it online last year, I have the hardcopy now) and so I’m not sure how well it fits into the socialism vs. free market subject that the Mises essays address.
- “Praxeology and Understanding” – Selgin
- “Historical Setting of the Austrian School” – Mises
- “Mises and the Role of the Economist in Public Policy” – Mises
- “Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays” – various
- “Against Intellectual Property” – Kinsella
Why: I can’t remember what I was thinking about these works last March…so I can only assume they were the only ones left after I had distributed the rest in other months. :) The Kinsella book has been added since last year, so I just threw it in here. I’ve already read it this year, so I don’t have to worry about it. :)
In about 2 hours I’m heading in to my second week of working. So, “how was the first week?” you ask. It was a mixed week. Some of it was really tedious and boring. But some of it was really, really interesting. And at least the boring work (scanning papers into the computer) has a purpose. It has been fascinating to see how the business works, to understand the weak areas and the flaws, and to start thinking out ways to improve production and communication.
While I had not thought about such a job (I actually entertained thoughts of working at a lovely coffee house), it has turned out to be far more interesting and challenging than a lot of other positions. It all fits in perfectly with my economic knowledge and it is exciting to be an important part of helping this business improve, grow, and please their customers better.
For instance, I’ve lectured plenty about consumer sovereignty in the market. But this week my boss was saying, “we don’t run the business, our customers do. They are the ones who decide what we do.” While in one perspective, this is a negative thing (small business overrun by large corporation, etc…), it is also a perfect real-life example of consumer sovereignty. It is great to work with real-life entrepreneurs and see what they must do and go through in order to be successful. This is going to give me some great material for my economics lectures :)
It is also a little awe-inspiring to discover how complex the system of production is. You can talk about the capital structure all day without comprehending what it means. But I’m slowly getting just a taste of how complicated it is to produce capital. I have a whole new appreciation for airplanes, because I know where the tiny little screws in the engine come from. I can only imagine where everything else comes from. It is just incredible to think of the cooperation, organization, and skills it requires to build a jet! There’s a whole new dimension to the classic saying, “no one can make a pencil.” The world today is highly specialized, and I’m in on just a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of the production process.
It is also awe-inspiring to realize how God worked all of this out. While I generally worry about things quite a bit, in this area I had been trying to relax, pray, and trust that in God’s perfect time He would present some opportunity to me. And this job far surpasses any of my ideas! :)
I got done with my first webinar about 30 minutes ago. On this night of The Biggest Snow Storm of the Century I was happy to stay inside and talk about economics…a great way to spend a blustery and frigid evening. :)
The first webinar was really great! I think everyone (including me) enjoyed it, and that’s the important part. What use is economics if you aren’t having fun?
Webinars are quite challenging, and it will take me a little time to get used to this different format. It is hard not seeing my audience or hearing them ask questions. Reading questions off a screen isn’t like listening to people ask them. And if I say something funny I don’t know if anyone else was laughing. In a way, it feels like I’m just talking to myself. And so at some moments I feel rather ridiculous and then remember, “oh, I’ve got people actually listening to me. That’s nice!”
Next week’s webinars will be on the history of economic thought leading up to the Austrians. I’m going to show why the Austrians were significant and what gap they were filling. I’ll talk about Aristotle and the importance of the Scholastics in early economics before I start bashing Adam Smith and all the terrible things he did. To be fair, he did say some right and good things, although as Rothbard noted, everything correct Adam Smith said was not original (he was a notorious plagiarist) and whatever was original was wrong. I’ll also talk about some of the less known early economists like Cantillon. It should be really fun. I’m already excited.
This week’s webinar was on the Austrian business cycle theory and the application to historical depressions in America. I’ll be giving it again on Saturday if you’d like to join it then. Please register here though, because there isn’t much room left.
After contemplating the title of this post, I realized that it isn’t really true. Every Tuesday is different, in some sense, from the last Tuesday, so how can I say it is “ordinary”? But at least it means that nothing extraordinary has happened today.
My mother is waiting for me to clean up my room. You see, my room is where people iron their clothes, so the ironing board is always set up. It is right next to my closet (if you can call it that…more like a cubby hole) so the ironing board becomes very handy for throwing my clothes on and using as a makeshift table. I said that I’d clean it up yesterday, but it is still a bit of mess. To be honest, it is the exact same mess she saw Monday morning. But don’t blame me, blame BBC. That’s right, blame the British Broadcasting Corporation. For you see, cleaning my room is such a chore, I like to listen to things while working. An Agatha Christie mystery or Jeeves and Wooster are preferable. And BBC doesn’t have anything good available for listening right now. So the mess will just have to wait. And if my mother wants it cleaned up sooner, she’ll have to talk to BBC. Unless she tells me to pick up the mess regardless of if I have a nice story to enjoy.
Yesterday I started reading Guido Hulsmann’s “The Ethics of Money Production.” It is a really interesting book, especially as it deals with the morals of money. Is it “bad” (in a moral or ethical sense) to inflate the money supply? Is fractional reserve banking wrong? He will be addressing those sorts of questions. Right now he’s laying the groundwork, talking about the different kinds of money (real money, certificates, credit, etc…) and how they developed. As others have said, it is exciting to watch Guido Hulsmann, he’s really one of the leading Austrians of our day. A very brilliant man with many good books and contributions, and I’m eagerly waiting to see what he comes out with next. Not only is he teaching Austrian economics, but he’s also refining and improving the Austrian theories. He spent around 10 years researching his book on the life of Mises, “The Last Knight of Liberalism.” By the way, if you want to read that book, but don’t really want to read, I happen to have inside information that an audio reading of the book will be available online at Mises.org at some point. But it was fun to hear his stories of running around the world trying to get original documents and information about Mises to put in his book. I’m slightly biased, I suppose, because I have met him, and so if I make you think he’s a really amazing economist, then you’ll be impressed that I actually talked to him. But it is true, and I wasn’t the first one to say it either. :)
I’m also trying to read part of “Man, Economy, and State” and part of “Conceived in Liberty” before Christmas, along with “Democracy: The God That Failed” and “The Ethics of Money Production.” Oh, and a book about life in the 1920′s and 30′s, I think I’ve mentioned before. And a book by Thomas Watson called “The Great Gain of Godliness.” This really is keeping me quite busy. And that reminds me, I’ve run out of time to ramble on and on here, and must get going. :)
I’m feeling pretty generous right now, so I decided to offer a special deal on the tutoring rates. If you aren’t really sure how it would go and don’t want to commit to anything, I will give you two weeks of tutoring absolutely free. You email me at econtutor(at)savannahliston(dot)com and tell me what you’re interested in. Maybe something like, “you know, I don’t really understand all of this about QE2 and the Fed…what is it all about?” Or “I had to read part of The Wealth of Nations for school and I don’t know what to think of Adam Smith and his economic ideas.” Or “I didn’t really like economics in school, and I know that what the government tells us is all wrong. Can you give me a quick overview of Austrian economics, the foundation of it, and what makes it different from other schools of thought?” The possibilities are endless. Really. And you will get 4 hours of one-on-one teaching and discussion about these topics. I will give you some recommended reading, maybe even draw up a course plan so you can keep pursuing your topic of interest. As we progress and encounter new questions or confusion, I will do the research to figure it out and present the material to you in a way that makes sense to you and is, to use my favorite word, “intuitive.”
Warning: I probably won’t feel this generous after Christmas, so I recommend that you take me up on the offer soon. We don’t have to start until after Christmas if you’re busy over the holidays, but to make it count, you have to email me before Christmas and say you are interested and want to take me up on the offer. What is there to lose?
So yesterday I actually got around to starting “Man, Economy, and State” by Murray Rothbard. I’ve meant to start it for a couple weeks. I wasn’t exactly procrastinating, but just…well, um, I didn’t get to it. It is one of those books you can’t exactly take with you in the car, or read while eating lunch, or read in bed as you drift off to sleep. It is a bit too big for that, at 2 and 1/2 inches thick and 1,438 pages. But I opened it up yesterday, slowly and gently. You know how some movies and songs are so good they make your spine tingle and you go cold all over? Well, it was a little funny, but that’s how I felt when I opened up “Man, Economy, and State.” Who would have guessed that a massive treatise on economics would be so exciting? I must admit, it was a little confusing on a couple pages talking about marginal utility. It was all information I knew already, and the whole thing about the farmer and his cows and horses and X-1, Y-1, X-2, Y-2, etc…(X and Y are two types of goods being considered on the value scale of someone. They might value X-1 and X-2 [the first 2 horses] over Y-1 and Y-2, and so forth) so I really didn’t bother to read that super-closely. I did like the part about a ham sandwich (which demonstrates capital and consumer goods, and the means that must be used to reach an end) because, well, I love ham sandwiches. More than Peter Klein’s croutons. That’s a sorta inside joke, but I’m feeling generous, so I’ll explain. When taking some online classes from Prof. Klein, I noticed that in nearly every lecture he would bring up croutons. He’d use them to demonstrate all sorts of economic principles, and he’d always note how much he likes to make croutons. So my sisters and I joke about it, how when I go to Mises U I should bring some really nice stale bread and present it as a gift for him so that he can make croutons. So Prof. Klein uses croutons to demonstrate capital vs. consumer goods. Rothbard uses a ham sandwich, and that’s much better (in my opinion) because I like ham sandwiches 5 times better than croutons. And this last sentence about ham sandwiches being 5 times better…well, that’s a little inside joke too. We were talking about it on Facebook yesterday, because I posted a quote from Man, Economy, and State. Rothbard was maintaining that it is impossible to use cardinal numbers (like 2 or 5 or 10) when talking about preferences. He said that we can’t say, “I like playing piano 3 time as much as washing dishes,” but that we can only use ordinal numbers, “I like playing piano firstly, then secondly I like reading a book, and then washing dishes.” So I didn’t really mean what I said about like ham sandwiches 5 times as much as croutons, I was just being facetious. :)
And while we’re on this wonderful topic of economics, let me share with you a quote which was sent to me this week by a good friend. It is from “Theory of Money and Credit” by Mises and goes like this, “Acts of valuation are not susceptible to any kind of measurement.” Isn’t that great? I love it! Okay, I’ll let you in on the secret now. Notice how it starts, “Acts of valuation.” Up to this point in economics (1924) valuing had been considered a feeling. Instead of saying “value can’t be measured because it is a feeling, it can only be compared to other similar feelings,” Mises clears up all the confusion by showing that valuation is an act, not just some weird emotion. I’ll quote my dear friend who sent the quote, Floy Lilley from the Mises Institute, “Although this change did not affect his actual analysis of the problems of conceiving of value as a quantifiable entity, it marked a conscious transition from a psychological conception of value to one in which value was an act rather than a feeling.” Isn’t that great? It just gives me such relief and happiness to think of valuing as an act rather than a feeling. Not sure why. But this quote really made my week, I made the “quote of the week” on my whiteboard next to my desk.
And you don’t have to be quite so thrilled about it as I am, I’ll still think of you as a good person and perhaps a good Austrian. I tend to be a little extreme about things right now. Hey, I’m a teenager, don’t blame me too much. At least I’m not into hard rock music (just Josh Groban. How does that old book go? Dante’s Inferno? The deepest circle in hell is reserved for those who listen to hard rock music, and the next one is for those who listen to Josh Groban. No, I’m really joking now, so don’t worry, if you listen to Josh Groban, I think we have far more serious sins to consider, although listening to Josh Groban isn’t really a sin.) and funky hairstyles and all that. You see, I’m not the typical teen, for I don’t get excited about Lady Gaga, I get excited about Man, Economy, and State!!!! :)
I’ve decided to switch my focus from teaching an online class to online tutoring. Why? This is the way of the free market. I’ve concluded that perhaps teaching a full semester of economics may be too daunting for some and the time commitment too great. If you sign up for it before December 13th, I may still teach it, but with such a small group as I have right now, it really isn’t worth the work I’ll have to put into it. So what’s this online tutoring all about?
Instead of expecting students to conform to the same curriculum, time-length, difficulty of study, etc…I will be teaching students individually and developing a course plan unique to them. It might just be a month of study on the Federal Reserve. Then in a few months you might want to learn more about Keynesian economics and why it is so bad. We might study that for a month or two, depending on your time and interest. It might be just a summer project when school is out, maybe studying the business cycle.
Why might this interest you?
- With the amount of information provided online by the Mises Institute, it is sometimes hard to determine exactly what will be useful to your particular needs, and it is difficult to stay focused on one topic. “Hey, I was going to study the history of economic thought but here’s a lecture on environmental economics that looks really neat.” Having someone help you do the research and decide what materials to cover will help cut down on wasted time and allow you to focus on whatever area interests you most.
- If there’s no accountability it is easy to fall behind and not accomplish things. “I’ve been meaning to read Human Action for the last 6 months, but I just keep reading the first chapter over and over.” With someone there to help you reach goals and provide accountability you’ll be able to learn far more.
- Instead of taking a course that doesn’t fit your needs or interests exactly, you can have a course of study that is at your level of learning, in a time-frame that works for you, and only covers the areas that you are specifically interested in. Of course, depending on what areas you want to study we may have to research other things as well, but the depth of study is all up to you. For instance, if we were going to study the business cycle that would require a solid understanding of the capital structure to see where exactly the market goes wrong during the business cycle and the real cause of it.
So that is what’s new around here. There is no “deadline” for signing up, but there are specials right now, check out this page for more details, or email econtutor(at)savannahliston(dot)com, or just comment on this post if you have any questions.
So what does that mean about the argument for tariffs and protectionist trade policies?
I’m sorry folks, if you missed the deadline for the discounted registration. Your only chance now is to get more than 5 people to sign up with you, and you can get the group rate of $35 per person. But I’ve been thinking about some other things too. In case you’re afraid that this class is going to be a little boring (or maybe slightly fun) but just not practical and relevant to your life, I have a solution. During the last couple weeks of the course, we will spend our live lecture time discussing current problems. After getting such a solid foundation, we can tackle some of the tough questions that we’re all dealing with right now. But the best part of it all? You get to decide what we talk about. If you are a participant in this course, then you get to decide what questions we talk about. Maybe those socialists are constantly plaguing you about some apparent flaw in the free market and you just wish you had the time to come up with a response. Then we can discuss that. If you give me the question ahead of time, I’ll do the research and give you some ideas for how to respond. And you might be tempted to ask, “can’t I skip the other lectures and just attend these Q&A sessions?” And I’d say, “actually, it would be better if you attended every lecture. You see, the whole course will be building up to these real-world problems and questions. The theories and ideas we learn throughout the course will make it possible for us to understand how the economy works now, or actually, how it isn’t working. Not only that, but if you attended every lecture and had this strong economic base, then it will be a piece of cake for you to rip apart any Keynesian propaganda, any socialist arguments, or even any Monetarist nonsense, at any time…not just during the course, but while you’re having dinner with a friend, or confronted by an activist, or watching the evening news.”
Are you convinced yet?