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KOL261 | Venture Stories Podcast Debating Austrian Economics, Libertarianism, and Bitcoin with Noah Smith


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 261.

This is my appearance on the Venture Stories Podcast by Village Global, April 6 episode, hosted by Erik Torenberg: A Comparison of Austrian and Keynesian Economics with Noah Smith, Parker Thompson and Stephan Kinsella. It ended up being a bit of a debate with the other guest, Noah Smith of Bloomberg. This was a bit of an interesting episode, as I explain in the informal “bonus” episode KOL262. We ended up discussing/debating a variety of issues, such as: Austrian economics and praxeology, the business cycle, bitcoin, libertarianism, the federal reserve, anarcho-capitalism and related.

By the time we started the podcast I had forgotten it was not exactly for an already-libertarian or Austrian audience, and in fact the host seemed at first (off-air) to think I was the Irish economic journalist Stephen Kinsella (see Stephen Kinsella’s I am Not), and I had forgotten it was a debate and that Smith would be taking positions opposed to Austrianism and libertarianism. My performance was a bit subpar, but I did the best I could to present Austrian views even though I’m not a professional economist.

[I believe this was the show where I derisively referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “Occasional Cortex,” as I did also here, to the uncomfortable chuckles of the others, and they excised this from the published episode.]

From the show notes:

On this episode Erik is joined by Stephan Kinsella (@NSKinsella), libertarian writer and patent attorney, Noah Smith (@Noahpinion), Bloomberg opinion writer, and Parker Thompson (@pt), partner at AngelList.

In a spirited debate, the three of them discuss the relative merits of Austrian economics vs. Keynesian economics.

They start out by defining the primary schools of economic thought and explaining where each of the guests sits on the spectrum of economic thinking. They talk about the value of empiricism when it comes to economics and whether economic theories can be derived from first principles.

They discuss inflation and whether centralized control of the money supply leads to better economic outcomes, as well as how one can determine these things in the messy real world. They also touch on a number of other topics, including whether it would be a good thing to get rid of the FDA and pharmaceutical patents, whether antitrust law is “unethical,” and whether the patent system is a net positive for society.


Listen to “A Comparison of Austrian and Keynesian Economics with Noah Smith, Parker Thompson and Stephan Kinsella” on Spreaker.

Local copy.


  • Milton Friedman, Essays in Positive Economics
  • Karl Fogel, The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World (see Youtube)
  • KOL 038 | Debate with Robert Wenzel on Intellectual Property
  • In response to one of Smith’s comments about the origin of copyright, see Karl Fogel: “The first copyright law was a 1556 censorship statute in England. It granted the Company of Stationers, a London guild, exclusive rights to own and run printing presses. Company members registered books under their own name, not the author’s name, and these registrations could be transferred or sold only to other Company members. In exchange for their government-granted monopoly on the book trade, the Stationers aided the government’s censors, by controlling what was printed, and by searching out illegal presses and books — they even had the right to burn unauthorized books and destroy presses. They were, in effect, a private, for-profit information police force.”
  • Smith also claimed Robert Lucas and indeed many (most?) economists were for abolition of patents. I would love to see proof of this.
  • Smith also seemed to deny that it’s accepted in economics that minimum wage laws cause unemployment or that free trade is generally beneficial. Hunh? Smith seems to think that minimum wage might be justified if it only harms a few people but benefits most, without seeming to realize that the people that minimum wage laws harm are generally the very people the law purports to help: the least skilled and poor.
  • Robert P. Murphy, The Depression You’ve Never Heard Of: 1920-1921
  • Thomas E. Woods, The Forgotten Depression of 1920
  • “Essentially, economic analysis consists of: (1) an understanding of the categories of action and an understanding of the meaning of a change in values, costs, technological knowledge, etc.; (2) a description of a situation in which these categories assume concrete meaning, where definite people are identified as actors with definite objects specified as their means of action, with definite goals identified as values and definite things specified as costs; and (3) a deduction of the consequences that result from the performance of some specified action in this situation, or of the consequences that result for an actor if this situation is changed in a specified way. And this deduction must yield a priori-valid conclusions, provided there is no flaw in the very process of deduction and the situation and the change introduced into it being given, and a priori—valid conclusions about reality if the situation and situation-change, as described, can themselves be identified as real, because then their validity would ultimately go back to the indisputable validity of the categories of action.”– Hans-Hermann Hoppe
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