IHS SEMINAR BLOGGING FROM CALIFORNIA

Lynne Kiesling

Apparently last week when I blogged Aeon’s philosophy lecture from IHS, I started something! This week at the Liberty & Society seminar in California, the faculty will be live-blogging the lectures at Agoraphilia. Of particular note this morning is Steve Davies discussing Steve Horwitz’s lecture on the Great Depression. Steve D. is an historian with a keen economic intuition, and makes some interesting observations:

Steve goes on in his talk to explain how the great depression is a consequence of monetary disorder. Essentially the 1920s are an inflation, disguised by productivity increases as the big innovations of the 1880-1900 period worked their way through the economy. So demand for money was low. But in the 1930s, after a catastrophic reduction in money supply by the Fed there was a higher demand for money than there was supply. Hence the GD [Great Depression].

He then observes that this telling of the history of the Great Depression differs from that usually told in the historical narrative. I must say, though, that in economic history scholarship, this is largely the story that I learned in graduate school 16 (my god that’s depressing!) years ago. So the question is how better to connect the economic history scholarship to the popular history narrative that shapes our perception of the Great Depression.

Note also an earlier post from Glen Whitman remarking on Steve Davies’ use of the terms intensive growth and extensive growth as very parsimonious ways to describe growth with existing technology and growth via technological change. The intensive/extensive language dates back to David Ricardo, who used the distinction between intensive and extensive in developing his rent theory in 1817. I welcome this reinvigoration of the language!

Speaking of language, Glen also has a spontaneous order and language post, noting that language embodies a great deal of tacit knowledge.

All very interesting.