No I am not making any public confession of time spent with Ed Stringham gallivanting in Prague, though he is supposedly in town as I type. I am "lonely and boring" as one infamous calling card said that was given to me on the streets of Prague one night a decade ago in Stringham's presence predicted. My adventures are not that exciting to anyone but an economist. I am a very conventional guy who happens to hold unconventional views on politics and economics. Though Pete Leeson and Rosemary apparently like to inform everyone who will listen that I am a "salty dog" in my use of language. I am working on that vice, but like my waistline that battle has yet to be won.
Anyway I first came to Prague in the early 1990s and it has remained among my favorite places in the world to visit. I love the look and feel of the city. At the time of my first visit the city was full of signs that read: Praha Loves Mozart. And different performances of Mozart were on-going in churches and in theaters, etc. Mozart is said to have loved Prague as much as Prague loved Mozart.
I am here giving lectures at both the Cevro Institut and at the University of Economics. The faculty at both include individuals that I have known and in many instances been friends with for well over a decade, and their students are simply fantastic additions to the growing international community of "Austrian" economists and classical liberal political economists.
Since arriving here last weekend I served on a PhD dissertation committee as an opponent (congratulations to Dr. Marek Hudik), have given a series of lectures at the University of Economics, and given some special seminars at the CEVRO Institut to faculty and students about the current stay of play in economics and interdisciplinary research and teaching. Last night I participated in a book release of my Czech book, Robust Political Economy for the 21st Century. Starting tomorrow I will participate in the 2011 Prague Conference in Political Economy.
I cannot speak highly enough about the vibrant economic community that exists at VSE and CEVRO with the students, and encourage all students interested in Austrian economics and classical liberalism that are considering a place to pursue their studies, spend a year abroad, or earn an advanced degree to consider the opportunities in Prague. Great location, great faculty, and wonderful community of students. I would not be surprised to see signs next time I come that read: Praha loves Austrian Economics, and I know that Austrian economists should love what is going on in Praha at both the CEVRO Institut and at the University of Economics. Prague clearly joins Madrid and Guatemala as the major intellectual centers for Austrian economics outside of the US. London is potentially catching up with the developments at Queen Mary and King's and with IEA and Cobden Centre. And there is also a strong concentration in Aix-en-Provence. I am sure I am missing out on some and I apologize. But I am at the moment simply in awe of the spirit and commitment of these Prague-based Austrian economists.
*Over the years they have had Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Richard Epstein and Deirdre McCloskey into lecture and they have provided translations of books by Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, etc., as they have revitalized economic education and economic research in the post-communist era in Prague. In the most recent rankings of Czech economics departments, the department at University of Economics was ranked #1 overall. Very impressive accomplishment for these individuals and a testament to their creativity and work ethic in the realm of economic education and research.