The Self-Defeat of the Keynesian Cross

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The Self-Defeat of the Keynesian Cross

The Austrian business-cycle theory, initiated by Ludwig von Mises and further developed and elaborated by F.A. Hayek, is by many considered the cornerstone of this school of thought. However, in 1998, Paul Krugman plainly dismissed the theory as not “worthy of serious study.”

More recently in his New York Times blog, Professor Krugman claimed that the Austrian business-cycle theory fails to fully explain fluctuations in output and employment between recessions and booms. From this he concludes that the theory fails to demonstrate how a business cycle can be caused by government intervention. At the same time, he interprets this as a sign of Austrians’ unconscious adherence to Keynesianism in explaining the booms but not the busts. Austrian economists, says Professor Krugman, seem to be “Keynesians during booms without knowing it.”

The assertions about the alleged inadequacy of the Austrian business-cycle theory have been addressed by Robert Murphy and will not be the focus of this article. Instead, I will demonstrate that the common interpretation of the theory that Krugman considers more worthy of studying seriously