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Interesting, I might write a paper for this. Just need to think of a topic first.

Steve -
I realized in reading this announcement that I don't really know exactly what catallactics is. So I did what anybody would do - I went to Wikipedia. Wikipedia provided this definition, which I hope is a reasonable start:

"It aims to analyse all actions based on monetary calculation and trace the formation of prices back to the point where an agent makes his or her choices. It explains prices as they are and not as they should be. The laws of catallactics are not value judgments, but aim to be exact, objective and of universal validity."

As I read this I was wondering - what economist since Thomas Aquinas, Scholastics, and "just price" people HASN'T taken a "catallactic approach"? That seems to describe all economics I've ever seen. I suppose there was something of a labor theory of value intermission where the calculation and choice of individual decision makers didn't play as big of a role. But don't we all do this? Am I missing something about the uniqueness of catallactics? I was just curious because I'm not very familiar with it. I always thought it was something more uniquely Austrian.


I would argue that all of general equilibrium theory is not catallactic in that it is NOT dealing with monetary calculation and money prices that emerge through actual exchange.

More generally, "catallactic," which Mises tended to use, can be linked with Hayek's use of "catallaxy" for the extended order of the marketplace, as well as Buchanan's emphasis on economics as the "science of exchange."

Models in which real exchange does not take place, and that's what GE models are, would therefore be outside that tradition.


For what we mean, see Buchanan's "What Should Economists Do?"

This is also helpful: http://mason.gmu.edu/~rwagner/Value%20and%20Exchange.pdf

I've always loved "What Should Economists Do?". I had never noticed the explicit reference to catallactics until pulling it up again now, after reading your comment. I think Buchanan is a little too harsh on Robbins's definition of economics, but certainly part of that is to set Buchanan's argument in starker relief. Notice also how he prefaces several of his statements about Knight and Robinson with "presumably, he means", and of Friedman with "if I remember him correctly". Those are tip-off statements that suggest he might be setting up a false dichotomy! But the points he makes in the piece are obviously still very good and very valid.

I'll take a closer look at the Wagner piece. It looks like an interesting read. I've never personally differentiated between the three "marginal revolutionaries" in any great detail, but that was probably because I wasn't especially invested in the any distinction there is to be drawn.

I still have to pinch myself to realize I am not living a dream. And last weekend just made me realize once again how fortunate I am.

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