Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

Ludwig von Mises‘ Vienna Private Archive and its relevance for economic policy and theory

Starchl Lukas, Graz Schumpeter Centre, University of Graz
Sturn Richard, Graz Schumpeter Centre, University of Graz,
Dieter Reumiller, Karl-Franzens University Graz

Ludwig von Mises is one of Austria’s most influential economists as well as an historically significant actor in Austria’s economic policy of the interwar period. Over and above that, Mises was one of the most prominent Viennese “students of civilization” (E. Dekker). In this paper, the focus is not on the obvious divide between his critics and admirers. A proper contextualization of Mises’ work and his unique role in the Austrian School suggest that there may be more common ground than is sometimes believed. More specifically, at more than one level (including the way in which he understood his advisory role in interwar Austrian economic policy as well as foundational levels of his socio-economic theory and epistemology), Mises seems to aim at dealing with political problems of modern orders as an economist/by means supplied by economic theory – not in the usual sense of giving economic expert advice (be it as an “engineer”, as a “dentist”, or as a “plumber”) but on a more encompassing level. In specifically different ways, this is reflected in the work of, e.g., Misesians who see him as an intellectual leader and “the last knight of liberalism (G. Hülsmann) as well as of critics (see for example Slobodian 2019, Slobodian and Olsen 2022). In support of this view, we make use of an exhaustive and systematic review of Ludwig von Mises private archive (including contextual information and material relevant for tracing Mises’s theoretical development in the conversational environments of interwar Vienna), an archive mainly documenting his Vienna period until 1934. A few years ago, this archive was relocated from Moscow to the Austrian National Archive in Vienna and is made available by us in a digital version.

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Ludwig Mises, Austrian School of economics, History of thought, Mises Archive

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