Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

Crisis of Political Authority? I Wish!



In my capacity as the longtime editor of The Independent Review (reduced earlier this year to the harmless status of Editor at Large), I have often received unsolicited copies of recently published books from the publishers, who hope to obtain reviews that will help them drum up sales. Today’s mail delivery brought me such an unrequested...
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On My Libertarian Catholicity



Since the late 1970s, I have been working in some capacity with think tanks and similar organizations that one might view as interested in education, research, and advocacy in the broad area of classical liberal, libertarian, and free-market thinking. One does not have to follow such organizations very long to discover that they differ in...
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Donald S. Barnhart (July 18, 1925—September 8, 2009)



In the fall of 1963, I transferred from Fresno State College, where I had recently completed my sophomore year, and enrolled in San Francisco State College, where I studied for two years and then was graduated in 1965. By the beginning of my senior year, I had already completed all of the requirements for...
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Government Spending and Regime Uncertainty—a Clarification



In view of my sixteen-year campaign to bring about an understanding of the idea of “regime uncertainty,” one might think that I would be gratified by the growing recognition of the importance of the closely related (but narrower) idea of “policy uncertainty” in relation to the unusually slow recovery from the bust of 2007-2009....
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Thinking Is Research, Too!



Bill Parker, an old friend of mine who died in 2000, was director of graduate studies in economics at Yale for thirteen years. He told me once about his struggles with his colleagues, who, he believed, were spending too much time on technique and not enough time on substance in teaching their courses. The...
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Shutdown Theater



Government shutdown? Nonsense. Only in our dreams will the U.S. government shut down. The current flap about an impending shutdown represents only the latest episode in the soap opera that stars the government as the hysterical teenage drama queen. For fiscal year 2013, which will end in a week, estimated federal revenue is expected...
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All Government Policies Succeed in the Long Run



A crazy claim you are probably thinking after reading my title. After all, “failed policies” are a staple of discussions and debates about government actions in the United States. Everybody, regardless of political preferences, has a list of what he regards as the most glaringly failed policies. This way of looking at the matter,...
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Ronald Coase, Professional Odd Man Out



Ronald Coase (1910-2013) died yesterday at the age of 102. Since Coase became an economist, in the early 1930s, the economics profession has been altered enormously in fundamental ways. Most notably, perhaps, (1) the degree of analytical formality (especially the mathematical specification of theoretical models) has increased greatly in every part of the field; (2)...
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Creative Destruction—The Best Game in Town



In his justly famous 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Joseph A. Schumpeter described the dynamics of a market economy as a process of “creative destruction.” In his view, innovation—“the new consumers’ goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates”—drives this...
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Is Macroeconomics Really Economics?



The world probably would have been much better off had macroeconomics never been devised. Although I have in mind Keynesian macroeconomics above all, I include other types of macro models as well. I even include, somewhat reluctantly, the whole quantity theory approach descended from David Hume to the Friedmanites, now known as monetarism. One...
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