Saturday, 27 August 2016

If Men Were Angels

"If Men Were Angels", wrote the contributor to the American constitution James Madison in 1788, "no government would be needed". Indeed, if men were angels, any government would be flawlessly run. But as long as men are not angels, the standard interpretation has been that a government violently keeping us all in check is required for life not to be unimaginably terrible.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Greek Restaurant & Econ Fallacies

During my year in Sydney, I often went to a Greek restaurant next to my house. They made slightly-too-expensive food, but oh so incredibly yummy and the staff were super-friendly and - perhaps most importantly - it was literally 2 houses down the road. Suffice to say I ate there quite a lot.

In Australia, the government came up with this ingenious policy called Penalty Rates, a sort of Sunday-only minimum wage that requires employers to pay their employees some extra wage simply because it's Sunday. Consequently, many places around Australia shut down on any given Sunday, (which is part of the policy's intention) but in Sydney the policy also provided me with an excellent illustration of important econ concepts.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Review of Bob Murphy's 'Choice' - Amazing Yet Surprisingly Dull

Before this year's Mises University, I had promised myself not to buy any books in the Mises Bookstore. My reading list was too long already and my bags were completely full after weeks of travelling and a year in Australia - and most books are available online anyway. Being at the Mises Institute however, in the presence of brilliant people, and encouraging scholars, surrounded by so much amazing reads, I evidently couldn't resist. Among the books I acquired, were Murphy's latest book Choice as well as his study-guide to Human Action.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Why People Don't Understand 'Comparative Advantage'

Comparative Advantage is the most fundamental, yet revolutionary concept in Economics. For centuries, however, very few people have grasped it, and the vast majority have taken measures against it - as seen by every protectionist policy, every tariff or politician calling for them. Not doing a better job at explaining this to our fellow citizens is the biggest failure by those of us with a passion for econ. In this, we're all guilty.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

In Defense of Sane Thinking

Since Charles Peralo's indignant attack on Rothbard yesterday, my social media feed has scarcely spoken about anything else - and since my Australian losertarians keep saying I'm a leftie, here are my two cents:

I'm probably in the midst of this Rothbard cult Peralo is referring to, especially considering my involvement with the Mises Institute and my deep passion for hardcore Austrian Economics. I have most certainly heard vague rumours about people who genuinely hates Rothbard - for reasons I have never quite understood. Charles Peralo over at BeingLibertarian.com clarified the issue for me; Rothbard sucks, because he
a) sometimes associated with terrible people - even racist people, or far-left people; and
b) never had a big impact on public policy.

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Naivety of the Enviro-Left

It comes as no surprise that the hip, inner-city enviro-left is short-sighted, economically illiterate, and generally anti-human. However, there's an element of their stupidity that I didn't see until today - probably because I've been intuitively swayed by an ounce of efficiency-thinking in this particular argument. I'm talking about videos like this:

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Impossibility of a Gender Wage Gap

Sometimes friends and acquaintances say things that take you by surprise - and make you subconsciously plan a blog post. It doesn't have to by anything remarkable, just enough to set my guts on fire.

This recently happened to me, when a good friend of mine offhandedly mentioned the wage gap. My first reaction was one of genuine surprise, tantamount to when rational people around me profess strong association with party politics or the Jehovas Witness; "what?! Come on, you're smarter than this! You don't seriously believe in a gender pay gap?"

Sunday, 31 July 2016

From Euphoria to Despair in Less Than an Hour

Today, Mises U is coming to a close, with a live-show of the ContraKrugman show & Mises Weekend, as well as games, cookout and – examination. When I passed the written exam back in 2014 and went onto the first stage of interview-style examinations, I was still a freshie to Austrian Economics. Suffice to say, I was frightened to pieces. Dr. Salerno, Dr. Block & Dr. Woods crossed their arms, fixed their gaze firmly on me and saw straight through my feeble attempts at organising my answers. I obviously didn’t qualify for the next stage, and I have since described it as the most intimidating experience of my life.

Now I have a new one.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

In Presence of Intellectual Giants: Gary North

Little under three years ago, I stumbled upon the vast resource known among reasonably intelligent people as Mises.org (check it out!). Great, provocative, insightful and educating articles on every topic related to political economy and the study of economics gathered in abundance - not to mention the pdf-versions. Somehow, working on some assignment for my first class in economic history at the University of Glasgow, I found a lecture on the MisesMedia YouTube-channel by some well-dressed, gray-haired man called Gary North. The title of his talk drew me in, capturing my curious mind, recently extremely hungry for knowledge:  How Come We're So Rich?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Mises University 2016 is ON!

Way more exiting than the Olympics is obviously Mises University. I’m so incredibly happy and grateful to be here, among seriously brilliant minds and more people than I have time to talk to! Over lunch I get into crazy hectic debates about the Austrian Business Cycle Theory; during social hours I interview the best professors; in the evenings I pick the brains of smart grad students and professors who so generously give of their time, experiences and knowledge.

Short intro: Mises University is a yearly summer event at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, where hundreds of students of Austrian Economics come together every year to listen to top-quality lectures in fields ranging from Monetary Theory and Austrian Subjectivity to Socialism and Development Economics and the Euro Crisis (most of these incredible lectures are streamed live on Youtube). Most of the hot-shots in the Austrian world are present and generously give of their time, inspiration and wealth of knowledge, all under the scorching 38-degrees-celsius Alabama sun.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

368 Days Later

On a rainy winter's Thursday almost exactly a year ago, my curious eyes first caught a little glimpse of what I had been excited about for so long: Australia. It was not exactly love at first sight, seeing as how the whipping rain and icy winds gave Sydney Airport a very unfriendly appearance – especially when the rain and cold had been among my biggest reasons to escape Glasgow.

Looking back, I don’t even remember what I expected. Sydney was simply another adventure, and up until departure from European sunshine and summer I had been too busy to contemplate what “it” would be like. Since one is always changing along with the place one is discovering, it is hard to know if those changes come as a result of the place itself – or would have occurred regardless under the cloak of familiarity or in the safety of one’s home.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Acknowledgements of a Wanderer

When the adventurous fantasy series Inheritance I had been devouring for the last six days came to a close, it did so gracefully and nostalgically. Almost 3000 pages of beautifully narrated fiction in six days leaves me filled with joy and bliss. As it draws to a close, so is my time spent in Australia. Incredibly enough, 366 days ago, on a rainy winter's Thursday I arrived to Sydney eager to throw myself into this year-long adventure.

But such reminiscence is a story for my last day. Before that, I'd like to thank each and every one of those people who made these 366 days an absolute pleasure - and a life-changing experience. As the City Council of Glasgow proudly states, “People Make Glasgow”; and people in Sydney have helped me grow, deal with emotions and hardships and happiness and adventures and absolute bliss. I close this chapter of my life with a whole series of saying grace, acknowledging in a very small way the great joys you have brought me. Shame on me, should I have forgotten someone.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A Comment on Ferguson - Pt. 2

After Glasgow-born historian Niall Ferguson's brilliant lecture at the Sydney Opera House in late-May, I couldn't resist discussing Glasgow with him, as well as picking up a book of his, The Great Generation. In the midst of end-of-semester and exam preparation, I managed to read the first 50 pages of this beautifully succint book and summarized my initial findings in a blog post. Long overdue, I now managed to finish the book and my sceptical opinion of it was much improved; after all, he started talking about changing cultures and social values and the regulatory State, arguments much more convincing than the shallow idea of 'Institutions' he spend the first few chapters discussing.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

University of Glasgow vs University of Sydney

After a much needed break from reality (and blogging), and as my year in Australia's must stunning city is drawing to a close, I decided to summarize my experiences of studying in Sydney and Glasgow - more specifically, at USYD and at UoG. That might be valuable not only for myself, but for next years' cohort arriving shortly.

Many people asked me if and how Sydney was different from Glasgow. Not only in terms of the cities and countries, but being a student in these very different places?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Why Brexit is Not a Victory for Liberty

I know. I'm late - and everyone is sick of reading about Brexit already. So here's a take you haven't read yet: The libertarian case for opposing Brexit.

My excuse for tardiness is exams. As always.

Yesterday I was at an IPA Young Members event in Sydney, and obviously 98% of the room was enthusiastic about the recent Brexit news. We heard grand speeches about the return of liberty to the British Isles, throwing off the yoke of EU, how it's a "remarkable victory of freedom in our lifetimes" and "the only correct libertarian position" is to support it.

Here's why they are wrong.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Trashtalking

Ok, trashtalking is not so weird the day after a horrible exam. 2 down, 2 to go. This is the #LifeOfAnEconStudent after all.

I ranted about this course after my first lecture and here we are again. In short, Monetary Economics looked really interesting, and the professor was the same amazing one I had last semester for history of economic thought. I quickly learned that he was on leave, and replaced by someone else - alright, I'm sure the course still covers the same topics and it'll be just as interesting. 


Or so I thought.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

When Economic Pluralism Doesn't Help

As I have explained many times here, the Curse of the Heterodoxy is juggling a number of very different frameworks at once, and the vast amount of reading even a rudimentary understanding of them requires. It makes my regular double-think and Ferguson's cognitive dissonances seem trivial in comparison.

Sometimes (=quite often), understanding many different frameworks in economics really helps; it gives you perspectives, you have a better understanding of turning points and disputes between economists if you see where they come from, and it really gives you a much better grasp of what's crucial, what's important and what's the underlying assumptions in many arguments. Overall, I'm convinced it makes me a better scholar of economics.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Is This Déjà Vu or What?

A few weeks back I published a hugely popular sarcastic article for the Swedish Mises Institute, roughly translated into "To Chase Everything but the Culprit". The point was to ridicule the Swedish government's silly attempt recently of "solving the housing crisis" by forcing households to pay down their mortgages by fixed percentages every year. I say silly, because the reason Swedish households have high debt levels is because housing prices are exceptionally high, which in turn is due to a combination of housing regulations, pathetically low interest rates, governmental subsidies of mortgage payments and intentionally preventing construction - all of which, paradoxically, are consequences of various governmental policies.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Minimum Wages and Sensationalism

Having recently gotten back from beautiful Perth, I'm gonna do something I normally don't: repost a Facebook argument I had some weeks back. Not because my arguments were particularly compelling or the topic particularly novel for this audience, but because of sensationalism. Politics brings out the worst in most (all?) of us, and sensationalist claims in order to discredit one's opponent occurs on a daily basis. My list of 3 Things Australian Politics is Mistakenly Obsessed About covers a few of those, and I could have added a forth: Minimum Wages.

Friday, 3 June 2016

3 Things Australian Politics is Mistakenly Obsessed About

Every country has its own particular political disputes, big or small. Often they’re not even important, but have been caught in massive political polemics for a long time, which means that everyone believes that they are important - especially heated debates during election times, naturally.

Few things are that important. A quote from one of my favourite historians, John Vincent Nye, illustrates the topic very well. In talking about historians of the industrial revolution, he says:
"For the thousandth time, it seems, scholars […] have confused what was politically important with what was economically significant.” (p. 40)
Same thing goes with current Australian politics. It is election season, so what would you expect but an absolute outpour of economic illiteracy?