Horwitz – Morals, Markets, & Malinvestment

I do love a great story and mythology is becoming a larger part of my recent interests.  Let us consider the goddess Tyche (Fortuna).  She is the Greek goddess of luck.  Blindfolded, she is indifferent to your quests.  Your individual success or failure are of no interest to her.  She can, with your hard work, make things easier for you.

So, is she right?  Is the natural market indifferent to the morality of your desires and actions?  Let’s put rope around this idea and assume that you are not out to purposely hurt anyone with your desires and actions.  Sure, your actions may have consequences that you may not wish but, digging deeply, does any one care that you eat too much?  Or, that you joined Charlie Sheen and his quest for “winning” by emulating his lifestyle?

How would the Austrian theorists approach the suggestion of a moral market and crimes against it?  Was the market downturn a couple years ago a punishment for sins against the natural market?  Professor Steven Horwitz wrote an interesting piece.  I encourage you to follow the link and read the entire article.

“…the Austrian theory is not a morality play.  The recession is not “deserved” in any meaningful sense of the term.”

“…Same with the Austrian theory of the cycle of course.  The theory argues that the boom is generated by some exogenous factor that has caused market interest rates to diverge from the natural rate that accurately reflects the time preferences of consumers and producers.  That exogenous factor is normally thought to be an excess supply of money, which is normally thought to be the product of bad central bank policy or problematic government regulations on the banking system.  Once that bad interest rate signal is in place, intertemporal discoordination will result.  The nature of money and the time-ladenness of production mean that we don’t see that discoordination at first, as it is masked by the boom.  The increased activity at both the higher orders of goods and the consumption level looks like growth until the fact that there is insufficient real savings to support the increased (now “mal”) investment at the highest orders makes itself known.”Steven Horwitz


We should probably sing a song to end our reading.  Ah, not a happy song.  Just one of indifference.


About Christopher Hessenflow

Christopher Hessenflow is a financial planner in the Chicago area. He works with all sorts of people who are much more interesting than he is. He enjoys his career which lends him time to think and, sometimes, be creative. Chip was born bald.
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