World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009

The UN’s take on the prospects for the global economy, made much closer to the proximate event. In the face of the shelf-load of books that have been written about the crisis and the aftermath, this is a resource that gives a much less dramatic, more balanced assessment, explaining why the world will experience a “synchronized downturn.”

Classics: Malthus’ Principles of Political Economy

Malthus cautioned law makers on the effects of...

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While best remembered as the man who predicted that population would grow faster than the Earth’s ability to feed it (a theorem not yet entirely discredited, Green Revolution notwithstanding), the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus was, along with Adam Smith and David Ricardo, one of the great framers of what is now known as classical political economy.

This 1836 edition of Malthus’ primary work on the subject is arguably the definitive version. It belongs in the library of anyone interested in the future of the world economy.

The Left, The Right, and the State

Image of Lew Rockwell

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It is easy, I suppose, to dismiss Libertarianism as a refuge for sociopaths and a political tool for uber-capitalists. I have been on both sides of the argument, at one time a card-carrying Libertarian, but more recently rejecting the idea of state minimalism as the core of a political ethos.

Lew Rockwell, who as founder and chairman of the Mises Institute is one of the leading intellectual lights of the Libertarian movement, is a controversial figure, and you will not read far into his The Left, The Right, and The State to understand why. Rockwell is not comfortable with the idea of a centralized state, and believes that the state is the root of much political evil.

These are uncomfortable ideas to Republicans, Democrats, Communists, and Facists alike. I am not convinced that Rockwell’s ideas are actually practical in the face of modern politics. Rather than bring about a libertarian utopia, his prescriptions are as likely to create a power vacuum that would bring something far worse than what we have today.

Yet just as Karl Marx clearly and passionately elucidated the shortcomings of 19th Century capitalism while failing to create a viable antithesis, Rockwell raises questions about modern governments that demand attention, even when his answers may not.