On the Monday of December 5th we were joined by Matthew McCaffery for a low down and discussion of the famous and influential ‘Austrian’ school of economics. A school that builds up it’s analysis of the economy from the ground up, highlighting the importance of entrepeneurship, and the motivations and actions of individuals in the shaping of the economy.
Although of course, to give a brief summary risks misrepresenting it, so for more details of what this school is about, and for an idea of how it analyses the world, you’d do well to look at a few of Matthew’s publications: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/matthew.mccaffrey/publications .
The Austrian school struck us as having pretty watertight and often quite radical arguments. Matthew had strong responses for all our criticisms, one response that stood out especially was the response to the central argument of Mariana Mazzucato’s book the Entrepeneurial State, put forward by someone in the back rows. For many of us in the room the book is very much a knock out argument that reaffirms an idea that state intervention has been the most important force in our economic progress. Let’s just say that Matthew’s response ‘sent us back to the drawing board’ slightly.
As we were very happy to see at PCES, the school had some interesting analysis on the role of debt, finance and money in the economy. Things that we can reasonably say are not heavily featured in mainstream economics.
Some of us came in with preconceived ideas about the content of the talk, assuming it might be perhaps slightly right wing and even slightly inhumane. This was not the case, a strong ethical basis for the school’s thought were apparent from start to finish.
The questions and responses from the audience were great, with questions cutting to the very numb of the matters at hand. Matthew made it clear that he really appreciated this engagement and interest, and we all appreciated him saying this.