As Pete Boettke notes, “Tyler Cowen argues that in hindsight, we should consider the bailout to have been successful in averting a financial meltdown of the US economy. He specifically asks me whether I can bring myself to admitting this.”
Boettke heroically says no. And Cowen is getting a good and well-deserved austro-libertarian smackdown on the Internets: a sampling:
- Can I bring myself to utter THOSE words?, the afore-mentioned piece by Pete Boettke
- Tyrone on the Bailouts, by Arnold Kling
- Scale, Scope, and What to do with Failing Banks (or: Has Cowen Forgotten his Higgs?), by Steve Horwitz
- This Is a Libertarian Economist?
- Libertarian, Free-Market Blog “MarginalRevolution” In Support of White House Torture, Bob Murphy
- Tyler Cowen’s Response, by David Henderson
- A Cowen reply: A second-best theory of libertarian bailouts
- see also Tyler Cowen Is So 1914ish
My own previous comments on Cowen include Comment on Tyler Cowen’s “Kindle and DRM and Netflix too” (about his pro-copyright views); Wirkman Virkkala, the “Locofoco Agnarchist,” on the confused Tyler Cowen; What Kind of Libertarian Are You? (rebutting Cowen’s absurd smears of Mises Institutes as “nationalists”); and Things Go Better With Koch … ? (noting Charles Burris’s observations about “Kochtopus minions such as Tom G. Palmer [and] Tyler Cowen,” and “The precocious Tyler Cowen has gone on to be one of the most pliable instruments in the Kochtopus toolbox, especially when it comes to denigrating Austrian economics and the work of Ludwig Von Mises”).
For some other web commentary on Cowen, see Tyler Cowen: Statist, anti-Rothbardian agent of the Kochtopus; and David Gordon’s The Kochtopus vs. Murray N. Rothbard, Part II, which states, in part:
Grinder placed particular emphasis on Tyler Cowen, a brilliant student who had been interested in Austrian economics since his high school days. Cowen enrolled in an Austrian economics program at Rutgers, where he impressed both Joe Salerno and Richard Fink with his extraordinary erudition. When Fink moved to George Mason University, Cowen moved with him; and he completed his undergraduate degree there in 1983. Grinder considered him the next Hayek, the hope of Austrian economics.In accord with the elite universities policy, Cowen went to Harvard for his graduate degree. There he came under the influence of Thomas Schelling and gave up his belief in Austrian economics.
After he finished his PhD in 1987, Cowen was for a time a professor at the University of California at Irvine, and he used to visit me sometimes in Los Angeles. I was impressed with his remarkable intelligence and enjoyed talking with him. But I remember how surprised I was one day when he told me that he did not regard Ludwig von Mises very highly. Here he fitted in all-too-well with another policy of Richard Fink and the Kochtopus leadership. They regarded Mises as a controversial figure: his “extremism” would interfere with the mission of arousing mainstream interest in the Austrian School. Accordingly, Hayek should be stressed and Mises downplayed. (After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to new interest in Mises’s socialist calculation argument, this policy changed. The mainstream, though of course continuing to reject Mises, now recognized him as a great economist.) The policy was strategic, but Cowen went further – he really didn’t rate Mises highly.
Cowen eventually returned to George Mason University as a Professor of Economics. He is said to be the dominant figure in the department. Because of his close friendship with Richard Fink, who left academic work to become a major executive with Koch Industries and the principal disburser of Koch Foundation funding, Cowen exerts a major influence on grants to his department.
Although he is largely favorable to the free market and believes that the Austrian school has contributed insights, Cowen remains a strong critic of Austrian and Rothbardian views. He has published a book that sharply attacks Austrian business cycle theory, Risk and Business Cycles: New and Old Austrian Perspectives (Routledge, 1997); and in an article written with Fink, “Inconsistent Equilibrium Constructs: The Evenly Rotating Economy of Mises and Rothbard” (American Economic Review, Volume 75, Number 4, September 1985), he argued that a key feature in the economic theory of Mises and Rothbard, the evenly rotating economy, is fundamentally flawed. It was ironic that the hope of Austrian economics, according to Grinder, and the prime ornament of his stress on elite universities, wrote an article for the most prestigious economic journal in the United States critical of the theory Grinder wished to propagate. Cowen has also criticized libertarian anarchism, another fundamental plank in Rothbard’s thought. He has defended government funding of the space program and limited government subsidies for the arts.
One might object to what I have said so far. Although the heavy Koch support for Cowen did not advance Austrian economics, was not a flourishing Austrian program established at George Mason? If so, did not the generous fellowships offered by Koch organizations, such as the Claude Lambe Foundation, play a major role in this happy development? Fellowships were also given to those studying in the Austrian program at NYU.