Economic History

In Defense of Capitalism

By |2019-06-13T12:39:13-05:00December 2nd, 2018|Categories: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Economic History, Economics, Free Markets, Ludwig von Mises|

The term capitalism has long been used by critics as a catch-all to denote a system replete with greed, indulgence, excess, and deprivation. It is easy to misinterpret self-interest as selfishness and write off capitalism and economics. But the truth of the matter is much more complicated… I find myself still scratching my head over George [...]

How the Myth of the ‘Robber Barons’ Began––and Why It Persists

By |2019-08-13T17:53:14-05:00November 7th, 2018|Categories: Books, Capitalism, Communism, Economic History, Economics, Free Markets|

Capitalism Worked, But We Were Told It Didn’t We study history to learn from it. If we can discover what worked and what didn’t work, we can use this knowledge wisely to create a better future. Studying the triumph of American industry, for example, is important because it is the story of how the [...]

Economists Must Answer for More than Just Economics

By |2019-09-19T13:09:59-05:00September 11th, 2018|Categories: Books, Capitalism, Conservatism, Culture, Economic History, Economics, Free Markets, Wilhelm Roepke|

Romanticizing and moralistic contempt of the economy, including contempt of the impulses which move the market economy and the institutions which support it, must be as far from our minds as economism, materialism, and utilitarianism... Editor's Note: The following excerpt comes from Wilhelm Röpke's excellent book, A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market, first published [...]

On the Nature of Wealth and the Wealth of Nature

By |2019-03-07T11:20:58-05:00March 23rd, 2018|Categories: Culture, Economic History, Economics, Gold Standard, History, Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna|

More than just the ultimate inflation hedge, the wealth of Nature—gold, forests, land, agriculture—and the cautious stewardship of these tangible assets over easily-inflated government “IOU’s” is what distinguishes wealth from riches… When King Louis XII, in the year 1499, formed the project of taking the Dukedom of Milan, to which he thought he had a [...]

What Is Capitalism and Where Did It Start?

By |2019-03-19T10:21:09-05:00August 5th, 2017|Categories: Capitalism, Economic History, Economics, England, G.K. Chesterton, Joseph Pearce|

Trade has always existed, and rich merchants have always been a part of the economic and political picture, but merchants have not always been the rulers, as they are today… In a recent essay for The Imaginative Conservative, I claimed that capitalism had its origins in England. I had expected such a sweeping statement to [...]

Abraham Lincoln & the Growth of Government

By |2017-07-24T22:43:53-05:00May 25th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, Conservatism, Economic History, Featured|

Did the Republicans centralize power in the federal government under Lincoln? No doubt. But perhaps the more important question is: Which policies did Lincoln tolerate in order to achieve his overarching goal?... Among those who consider themselves "conservatives" and/or "libertarians," the issue of the role of government in a free society is one of the [...]

Jeffersonian Political Economy

By |2019-04-18T10:37:10-05:00September 11th, 2015|Categories: Clyde Wilson, Economic History, Economics, Featured, Political Economy, Thomas Jefferson|

Economics, as practiced today, is a utilitarian and materialistic study. It is concerned with maximizing profit, with describing the actions of man as an economic being, and explaining the allegedly inevitable results of supposed economic laws. Our Southern forebears did not practice economics. They practiced political economy—which is concerned with human well-being. Those old-time [...]

The Free Market Wisdom of Milton Friedman

By |2019-08-30T11:21:41-05:00September 7th, 2015|Categories: Economic History, Economics, Friedrich Hayek, Keynesian|

Only a short time ago, the prediction that Professor Milton Friedman would receive the Nobel Prize in economics would have been greeted by a broad spectrum of reactions ranging from horrified impossibility to an unemotional expression of obvious inevitability. Indeed, when the formal announcements were made in the fall of 1976, the range of [...]

Was Adam Smith a Man of Letters?

By |2015-07-27T10:22:37-05:00July 17th, 2015|Categories: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Economic History, Economics, Featured|Tags: |

In the “Overture” to his grandly symphonic The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, Peter Gay describes the “international type” of the philosophe as a “facile, articulate, doctrinaire, sociable, secular man of letters.” On this definition, was Adam Smith a philosophe? Yes and no. Unlike his French counterparts, and even his bosom friend David Hume, he led [...]

A Return to Classical Monetary Policy?

By |2019-04-18T11:17:08-05:00April 22nd, 2015|Categories: Economic History, Economics|

Recently, I numbered among the twenty-some self-styled conservatives, organized by Steve Lonegan, who gathered at the headquarters of the Federal Reserve to meet with Chair Janet Yellen and governor Lael Brainard. (Steve is Director of Monetary Policy for American Principles in Action.) We met for an hour, with a selection of us giving remarks [...]

Did the Tariff Really Make America?

By |2019-04-18T10:49:56-05:00December 11th, 2014|Categories: Brian Domitrovic, Economic History, Economics, Political Economy|

Every nation has its “founding myth,” as we are apt to hear from post-modern quarters. But is this ever true when it comes to our economic history. In curricula from K-12 to history graduate school, it is staple fare that as a new nation in the early nineteenth century, the United States nurtured its [...]

Aristotle and Economic Prudence

By |2019-03-28T11:43:49-05:00December 20th, 2012|Categories: Aristotle, Classics, Economic History, Economics, Featured, Mark Malvasi, Political Economy|

In Aristotle's view, “true wealth” was finite, restricted to those articles “useful to the association of the polis or the household,” and thus necessary to sustain “the good life.” The exchange of commodities for money with the aim of making a profit was an artificial, and potentially destructive, enterprise. Trade, Aristotle declared, should be mutually beneficial, [...]

The Age of Keynes

By |2014-01-20T11:35:22-05:00December 5th, 2012|Categories: Books, Economic History, Economics, Political Economy|Tags: |

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, by Sylvia Nasar, Simon & Schuster, 558 pages In December 1974, in the midst of the first energy crisis, Friedrich Hayek received the Nobel Prize in Sweden and confessed, “we have little cause for pride: as a profession we have made a mess of things.” He admitted that [...]