By Steven Horwitz
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Additional info for Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective (Foundations of the Market Economy Series)
Although Austrian contributors to these discussions would likely say ‘of course we mean prices in terms of money’, it is worth emphasizing that point here because the starting point for our discussion of macroeconomics will be monetary disequilibria. If the prices of the microeconomic market process are formed out of acts of exchanges of goods against money, then the scope for monetarily-generated disorder is quite broad. For neoclassical economics and its emphasis on equilibrium prices, this is not an issue.
If all there was to Austrian economics was what Robbins incorporated into his book, then Hicks’ work could arguably have claimed to have incorporated that into the neoclassical mainstream. If so, then the development of Austrian economics between the wars looks very much like a process of intellectual assimilation. Clearly I wish to argue that the Austrian contribution goes well beyond the set of ideas that Robbins imported, and, therefore, the claim of assimilation is a dubious one. The Mayer paper, by contrast, shows the ways in which his understanding of the Austrian tradition differentiated it from the growing neoclassical program.
Might lead to market-level phenomena such as prices. Menger’s book builds toward an explanation of prices, rather than beginning with prices and explaining how humans make use of them to maximize utility, suggesting both that prices actually formed in the market will be disequilibrium prices and that the decisions made based on those prices cannot necessarily be characterized as equilibrating because those prices will have the past period’s errors embedded in them. Menger saw prices as the phenomena to be explained, rather than as an independent variable in explaining human choice, as in a more contemporary understanding.