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The Economics of Time and Ignorance: With a New Introduction (Routledge Foundations of the Market Economy) [Paperback]

Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. , Mario J. Rizzo , Roger W. Garrison
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 14, 1996 0415121205 978-0415121200 2nd
The Economics of Time and Ignorance is one of the seminal works in modern Austrian economics. Its treatment of historical time and of uncertainty helped set the agenda for the remarkable revival of work in the Austrian tradition which has led to an ever wider interest in the once heretical ideas of Austrian economics. It is here reprinted with a substantial new introductory essay, outlining the major developments in the area since its original publication a decade ago.


Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a superb book. In terms of style, tone, and execution, it is flawless. It is a distinctly Austrian contribution. At the same time, it is an original, and indeed a very creative work. . .it strikes me that The Economics of Time and Ignorance has all the makings of a classic.
–Bruce J. Caldwell, Southern Economic Journal

The title of this valuable work. . .comes from a remark of J. M. Keynes: `The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelop our future.' The moral of this work however is that time and ignorance are not so much dark forces to be defeated as unavoidable aspects of the human condition that must be lived with. . . The major task of the authors, which they have accomplished with considerable success is to integrate the Austrian, subjective approach to economic theory with that of its close relations in post-Keynesians and a few of those lone rebels against neo-classical orthodoxy.
–Kenneth Boulding, American Journal of Sociology

... O'Driscoll and Rizzo's book remains an Austrian classic ... [I]t still deserves to be read by serious academics across the political and economic spectrum.
Review of Radical Political Economics

Perhaps now the Austrians will be allowed to help renovate economics.
The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. was formerly a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Mario J. Rizzo is Professor of Economics at New York University.

Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Foundations of the Market Economy
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2nd edition (May 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415121205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415121200
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take some Time to Dispel Your Ignorance March 21, 2003
Format:Paperback
This book does much to advance the marginalist-subjectivist paradigm in economics. Most economists treat time trivially in their analysis. Some, like Gary Becker, correctly recognize the need to examine how people allocate the only non-renewable resource- time. The Becker approach uses static equilibrium models to address this issue. This represents an advance over the rest of mainstream analysis, but holds the data that people acquire through time constant. This makes convergence on equilibrium conditions possible, if not certain.
Following the work of Mises and Hayek, the authors of this book examine the implications of how knowledge develops through time. As people interact, they learn and change data relevant to their economic plans. We learn and create knowledge simultaneously, and do this differently depending upon the choices we make. Consequently, convergence on equilibrium conditions in markets is not inevitable, and may not even be possible. This makes the concepts of 'real time' and 'ignorance' that the authors discuss relevant to all economics analysis.
This allows us to consider information problems other than second best rational ignorance. We not only know that we do not know some things. We face gaps in our data concerning what we consider finding out about.
This does not mean that equilibrating forces do not exist. It means only that we must consider open ended processes in markets. This is not a new proposition. Adam Smith, the founder of economics as a distinct discipline, thought in evolutionary and process orientated terms.
If there is anything wrong with this book, it is that the authors might be a little too dismissive of conventional economics.
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6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The authors of this book need to sit down,pull out a copy of Keynes's A Treatise on Probability (TP;1921) and a copy of Boole's The Laws of Thought(LT ;1854),throughly read them and then make a major revision of this book .
Neither coauthor has any understanding of Keynes's technical exposition in Parts II and III of the TP and Boole's interval estimate analysis in chapters 16-21 of LT upon which the TP is based.The General Theory(GT) is an application of the TP.The failure to understand or accept this connection explains why the Austrian/ Post Keynesian views ,which are based on Shackle ,who completely rejected the TP after reading through the first few pages,are generally erroneous.

The errors in this book occur right from the start:

"More importantly,there exists a deep contradiction between the mechanical,aggregative method and the non-formalized subjectivist message(Lachman,1984,p.7).Unfortunately,Keynes never resolved this contradiction,and thus it prevented him from seeing the full implications of subjectivism.His statement about the dark forces of time and ignorance was made in the context of advocating government management of major investment decisions.He apparently never saw the limitation that real time and ignorance place on policy makers "(p.8).

Keynes's references to the dark forces of time and ignorance occur in chapter 12 of the General Theory(GT;p.155,157)in his discussions of the massive,undepletable,detrimental ,negative externality effects on aggregate employment and output that can be imposed on capitalistic societies by Wall Street speculators.
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