So I thought of putting together a list of books that would introduce someone with little to no experience with economics to the Austrian school. It’s not going to be a completely comprehensive list but enough to give more than a solid grasp. The list is meant to order each book by difficulty and intellectual order, with the very first being the least difficult and most logical, to begin with. I also subdivided them into four sections from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Master’ and included optional reading under each. I (unfortunately) have not read all the books on the list, I mostly included ones that I have read and took in suggestions from others. So here it is:

Beginner

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt – The most well-known introduction book on Austrian economics and for good reason to. This is the best book on the beginner’s list as it introduces to not only Austrian conceptions of methodological individualism and inflation, but also general economic theories like free trade.  Words cannot do this book justice, it was my very first economics book and through it, my thinking has been able to develop and mature. Hopefully, by the end of it, you should have a good idea of basic economics but with some Austrian elements sprinkled into it. (pdf)(Amazon)

Understanding Austrian Economics by Henry Hazlitt – After being introduced to economics in the general sense, we can move forward directly into what the Austrian school has to say. Hazlitt’s essay, in a historical approach starting with Carl Menger, gives a quick and easy overview of the essentials of Austrian economics. Namely, the time preference theory of capital, human action, and a critique of general equilibrium. He also provides a reading list but let’s just ignore that… (HTML)

Austrian Economics: A Primer by Eamonn Butler – Here we have a more comprehensive introduction to Austrian economics. Butler’s book explores Mises thought as the cornerstone of Austrian economics, in a non-theoretical way. It’s a good lucid read to give the reader an applied insight into Austrian economics without complex technicalities. This will be essential as we begin to segue way into the theoretical aspects of the Austrian school (pdf)(Mises Store)

An Introduction to Austrian Economics by Thomas Taylor – This book is a more rigorous introduction as it goes more in-depth in its topics of Austrian Economics. This short book gives a concise introduction to Austrian thinkers, business cycle theory, and Mises’ evenly rotating economy. (HTML)(EPUB)(PDF)(Mises Store)

Additional Reading:

The Essential Hayek by Don Boudreaux – A great introduction to the overall thought of Hayek. I included here since Boudreaux’s book also deals with Hayek’s political ideas but it does include the essential (no pun intended) economic positions posited by Hayek on spontaneous order, prices, the business cycle, and inflation. Filled with fun graphics as well, this free book is something novice will thoroughly enjoy. (PDF)(HTML)(Amazon) (Bonus: Videos)

Foundations of Austrian Economics by Israel Kirzner – Kirzner is a living legend in the Austrian school which is why I must strongly recommend reading his short book, Foundations of Austrian Economics. It includes important gems like a critique of conventional supply and demand theory, the importance of entrepreneurship, and a good historical analysis of the Austrian School. (EPUB)

What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray Rothbard – In most of his writings, Rothbard’s audience included the general public which is what makes him one of the most readable Austrian economists. Here he boils down his version of Austrian monetary economics (a continuation of Mises) to give a case for full reserve banking and ending the federal reserve. (PDF) (EPUB) (HTML) (Amazon)

 

Intermediate

Advanced Introduction to Austrian Economics by Randle Holcombe – The aim of this book should be to consolidate what you have learned already in the beginners’ section and now use it in context of textbook economics. The book itself was actually written for people already familiar with conventional Neoclassical/Keynesian economics but no understanding of Austrian economics, so you will be in the reverse position. Be prepared to familiarize yourself with mainstream terminology and diagrams. (Amazon)

Note:  If you’re struggling or feel like you would, I recommend reading Murphy’s book mentioned below or any introductory textbook, or watching a video series like this one from ACDC or this from Khan Academy, or lastly you can take an economics course at your high school or college.)

Austrian Macroeconomics by Roger Garrison – In my view, Garrison is one of the greatest living Austrian economists of our time. This monograph gives an amazing diagrammatical description of Austrian macroeconomics against the Keynesian framework. Garrison gives a great description exposition of Hayek’s structure of production, the Austrian theory of interest, heterogeneous capital theory, and much more. Impressively, he pacts so much so well in just 43 pages! (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

The Use of Knowledge in Society by FA Hayek – This essay is the best introduction to Hayek’s direct writings. Here we find not the very basis of his economic thought, but of his entire philosophy. His theory of decentralized knowledge and spontaneous order explains why prices coordinate efficiently and how planned economies are doomed to failure. (HTML) (PDF)

Additional Reading

Lessons for the Young Economist by Robert Murphy – If you want to study mainstream macroeconomics through the lens of the Austrian school, Murphy perfectly does the job. Remember that this is a textbook. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

Individualism and Economic Order by FA Hayek – If you want to read more essays like the Use of Knowledge, then you can find a great collection of essays of Hayek’s economic and social theories in this book. (PDF) (EPUB) (Amazon)

 

Advanced

Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action by Robert Murphy – This quite honestly one of my favorite Austrian books of all time. Murphy does an incredible job of condensing Mises’ thousand paged Human Action in roughly 300 pages! It is undeniably a must buy since Mises’ book is the magnum opus that inspired every modern Austrian economist. His book is very intimidating, complex, and technical; I admittedly have not been able to read it fully. That is why I am more than thankful for Murphy’s work here. To reiterate, you MUST BUY (Amazon).

A Monetary Policy Primer by George Selgin – A great web series of essays on money, I strongly recommend reading these simple yet advanced essays on what modern theorists in monetary policy get wrong. He talks about everything from what money is, the money supply, the price of money, interest rates, optimal monetary policy, a free market banking system, etc. Short, easy to follow, and put in a historical context, mostly of the recent Great Recession. (HTML)

Competition and Entrepreneurship by Israel Kirzner – Kirzner gives a Misesian account of capital theory. He attempts to correct the neoclassical view by stressing the importance of the entrepreneur and his “alertness,” multiperiod planning, and a reconstruction of a new price theory. (Amazon)

Capital and Its Structure by Ludwig Lachmann – Lachmann’s book stands out as it strongly goes against what Kirzner has to say about capital theory. While also more of Hayekian than a Misesian unlike Kirzner on this issue, Lachmann’s inspiration is also greatly inspired by Keynesian (or more specifically, post-Keynesian) thought on uncertainty in expectations. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

Pure Time Preference Theory of Interest by Jeffrey M. Herbener – A collection of essays by Rothbard, Mises, Kirzner, Roger Garrison, and Frank Fetter that elucidates the Austrian position of time preference as the theory of interest. This book posits itself against the views that interest rates are the “cost of money,” “the price of abstinence,” or “an account of the productivity of capital.” (PDF) (EPUB) (Amazon)

Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays by Richard Ebling – Here you’ll find a collection of essays by Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, and commentary by Kirzner on Austrian business cycle theory. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

Additional Reading:

The Kaleidic World of Ludwig Lachmann by Roger Garrison – Lachmann was an Austrian renegade that greatly inspired many GMU economists like the late Don Lavoie and Steve Horowitz. His methodology of radical subjectivism stresses the uncertainty of the future. This had a major impact on his capital theory which stands in opposition to Kirzner’s, Garrison gives a great introductory review. (HTML)

An Essay on Capital by Israel Kirzner – More accurately, it’s four sub-essays on capital. Kirzner begins by examining Robbinson’s Crusoe to demonstrate a capital theory based on multiperiod planning and unfinished plans. He goes on in further essays to critique Frank Knight and pointing out problems in trying to measure “capital.” (PDF) (EPUB)

Man, Economy, and State by Murray Rothbard – I mentioned earlier how Murphy wrote Choice as a way to simplify Human Action for the average person. Well, Rothbard did the same thing, except it’s just as long as Mises’ book. I’ve only read a few select chapters from this book so I’m not really sure if it is necessary to read if you already have Choice. But if you’re interested, Murphy says if you got a whole month to spare, then open this big guy up. There’s also a free study guide. (HTML) (PDF) (EPUB)

 

Mastery

Time and Money by Roger Garrison – As you may know by now, mainstream economics tends to neglect the importance of capital on the macroeconomy, particularly in business cycle theories. Garrison gives a comparative analysis of the Austrian approach against Keynesian and monetarist frameworks. His analyzes three main things: the structure of production, scarcity, and the market for loanable funds. To model these, he uses Hayekian triangles, a production possibilities curve, and a supply and demand graph respectively. I’m particularly fond of this book because of Garrison’s treatment of monetarism, he treats it as something that’s incomplete and is actually compatible with Austrian economics. (Amazon)

Microfoundations and Macroeconomics by Steve Horowitz – Steve’s project are similar to that of Garrisons. It begins by critiquing mainstream negligence of an intertemporal capital structure and Horwitz goes on how capital theory plays a key role as the microeconomic foundations for macroeconomics. The remainder of the book turns principally on monetarism and Austrian economics. Similarly again, Horwitz contends that the two are complements and he tries to build a bridge between the monetarism of Leland Yeager and the Austrianism of FA Hayek. (Amazon)

Note: If you want to know more about Yeager’s monetarism and his monetary disequilibrium theory, read his essay here. It’s pretty short and very simple and easy to understand. I’m pretty sure someone with a basic understanding of macroeconomics would fully understand it

The Theory of Money and Credit by Ludwig von Mises – This book was Mises most important writing on monetary theory. It greatly influenced even monetarists like Leland Yeager. There are a lot of important things in this book,  key ones are Mises’ Regression Theorem, a blueprint for a business cycle theory, and a case for free banking. This book is essential to understanding every major work in Austrian monetary theory. (HTML) (EPUB) (PDF) (Mises Store)

Note: Free study guide here

Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles by Jesus Huerta de Soto – I consider de Soto and Hulsmann to be the top two Austrian economists in Europe right now. De Soto’s magnum opus is a great piece of scholarship in the Rothbardian tradition. His book gives a critique of fractional reserve banking, supporting full reserve banking instead. He also looks to reinvent the legal framework of the banking system based on ancient Roman and Medieval Britannic law. This was the first major book of Misesian-Rothbardian monetary theory and banking in the 21st century. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

Prices and Production by FA Hayek – There’s not much that needs to be said, this is Hayek’s most famous work in the field of economics and arguably his magnum opus (It is said that The Pure Theory of Capital was meant to be). Here we find the first formalization of modern Austrian business cycle theory. It stands as one of the most challenging reads in Austrian literature. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises – Now the last book on our list. Mises’ magnum opus is what help set the Austrian school of thought from its contemporaries at his time. We find everything here including an exposition of methodological individualism and praxeology, a critique of socialist economic calculation, theories of interest, money, and business cycle, and just so much more. Literally, every subject is covered in Human Action which is what makes it, arguably, the greatest book on Austrian economics of all time. (HTML) (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store).

Note: Free study guide available here

Additional Reading

Money Free and Unfree by George Selgin – Selgin gives an account of monetary history blaming the federal reserve and other statist interventionism in our banking system as the culprit of economic fluctuations. At the time of the writing of this post, I have thoroughly enjoyed his books. Although it’s failed with many charts and graphs, Selgin gives a very well put, compact analysis. (Amazon)

The Midas Paradox by Scott Sumner – Although a ‘market monetarist,’ Sumner’s magnum opus on the history of the Great Depression has enjoyed great reviews by Austrian economists of both the Rothbardian and Hayekian tradition like Bob Murphy and Roger Garrison respectively. (Amazon)

America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard – If you’re looking for something more Austrian on the Great Depression, definitely check out Rothbard’s analysis. (PDF) (EPUB) (Mises Store)

The Pure Theory of Capital by FA Hayek – This was Hayek’s last major work on economics. I’m pretty sure he said that he left unfinished. It’s shorter than prices and production but also much more difficult as Hayek gets very technical in trying to make capital relevant to the analysis of monetary phenomena. It’s an important book but also a very hard one to get through. If you feel like you can handle it, take your shot. (PDF) (Mises Store)


Via – Austrian Econ Reading list at Learning Hayek

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Posted by Manu Belmonte

Senior Editor at The Credible Hulk Magazine and writer at my personal blog learninghayek.wordpress.com

One Comment

  1. This is such an interesting blog and I have an interest in Von Hayek’s thought and philosophy. You have mentioned texts I have never heard which is fascinating. I am not big on economics but found this post great.

    Like

    Reply

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