Letter to the Editor: Column wrong about Austrian economists

In response to “C-Store’s prices may be worth it” from the Feb. 3 issue of The Maroon

Walter Block

Dear editor,

In his Feb. 3 column, Ed Seyler states, “I shall prove that I am not an Austrian economist by analyzing empirical data to estimate the amount of this premium.” No, no, no, Ed. Go to the back of the class. Or take another economics course. This is a hoary fallacy.

Mainstream economists often charge that the only numbers in an Austrian publication are those that depict the page. Not so, not so.

Rather, Austrian economists do indeed engage in statistical analysis. We maintain that empirical work can illustrate economic law — not test it — since economics, properly understood, is a branch of logic; it is not an empirical undertaking.

But for issues that do not impinge upon economic law — such as the elasticity of demand for carrots, how much of a business cycle praxeology (the Austrian method) can explain or the relationship between economic freedom on the one hand and prosperity or poverty on the other — Austrians are every bit as open to empirical work as any other economist.


Walter Block

Economics professor