作者：Jesús Huerta de Soto
Jesús Huerta de Soto Ballester (Madrid, 1956) is a Spanish economist of the Austrian School. He is a professor in the Department of Applied Economics at King Juan Carlos University of Madrid, Spain and a Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
Huerta de Soto received a bachelor's degree in economics in 1978 and a PhD in economics in 1992, from Complutense University. His MBA in actuarial science is from Stanford University, 1985. In 2000 he became a full professor of Political Economy at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid.
Huerta de Soto was Editor of seven volumes of the Spanish language version of the University of Chicago Press's The Collected Works of F.A. Hayek. In that capacity, he was responsible for bibliographies, footnotes, introductions, and hiring translators. He is a member of the editorial board of New Perspectives on Political Economy and on the advisory editorial board of the Journal of Markets and Morality. Huerta de Soto is a Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is on the editorial board of its Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He was formerly a Trustee of the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies (IMDEA) in social sciences and was a vice-president and director of the Mont Pelerin Society from 2000 to 2004.
time preference 是奥地利学派提出来的，非常有意思的概念，企业管理有时候就是协调团队的 time preference，让人的相对随机行为转变为统一协调的行为，从而产生更明显的波峰和波谷，完成个人所难以达到的目标，管理者需要具备调整相关人员 time preference 的能力。
Austrians are particularly critical of the narrow concept of economics which originated with Robbins and his well-known definition of the subject. In his own words, “economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses” (Robbins 1932, 16). Robbins’s conception implicitly presupposes a given knowledge of ends and means and reduces the economic problem to a technical problem of mere allocation, maximization or optimization, subject to certain restrictions which are also assumed known. In other words, Robbins’s concept of economics reflects the essence of the neoclassical paradigm and can be considered completely foreign to the methodology of the Austrian school as it is understood today. Indeed, Robbins portrays man as an automaton, a simple caricature of a human being, who may only react passively to events. In contrast with this view, Mises, Kirzner and the rest of the Austrian school maintain that man does not so much allocate given means to given ends, as constantly seek new ends and means, while learning from the past and using his imagination to discover and create the future (via action). Thus, for Austrians, economics forms part of a much broader and more general science, a general theory of human action (and not of human decision or choice). According to Hayek, if for this general science of human action “a name is needed, the term praxeological sciences now clearly defined and extensively used by Ludwig von Mises, would appear to be most appropriate” (Hayek 1952a, 209).
Economics is not about things and tangible material objects; it is about men, their meanings and actions. Goods, commodities, and wealth and all the other notions of conduct are not elements of nature; they are elements of human meaning and conduct. He who wants to deal with them must not look at the external world; he must search for them in the meaning of acting men. (Mises 1996, 92)
For the above reasons, members of the Austrian school find that many of the theories and conclusions that neoclassicals form in their analysis of consumption and production make no sense in terms of economics. One example is the “law of equality of price-weighted marginal utilities”, which rests on very shaky theoretical foundations. In fact this law presupposes that the actor is able to simultaneously assess the utility of all goods at their disposal, and it overlooks the fact that every action is sequential and creative, and that goods are not assessed at the same time by equalizing their supposed marginal utilities, but rather one after the other, within the context of different stages and actions, for each of which the corresponding marginal utility may be not only different but incomparable (Mayer 1994, 81–3)
The great merit of the Austrians is to have demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to develop the entire corpus of economic theory in a logical manner, while introducing the concepts of time and creativity (praxeology); that is, without any need of functions nor assumptions of constancy which do not fit in with the creative nature of human beings, who are the only true protagonists of social processes, the object of research in economics.
et us bear in mind that it fully agrees with the original etymological meaning of the word “enterprise” (empresa in Spanish). Indeed both the Spanish word empresa and the French and English word entrepreneur derive etymologically from the Latin verb in prehendo-endi-ensum, which means “to discover, to see, to perceive, to realize, to capture”; and the Latin term in prehensa clearly implies action and means “to take, to seize”. In short, empresa is synonymous with action
We could also cite, following Polanyi, the example of a person who is learning to ride a bicycle and attempts to maintain their balance by moving the handlebars to the side toward which they begin to fall, creating in this way a centrifugal force which tends to keep the bicycle upright; yet almost no cyclist is aware of or familiar with the physical principles behind this ability. On the contrary, what the cyclist actually uses is a “sense of balance”, which in some way informs them how to behave at each moment to keep from falling. Polanyi goes so far as to assert that tacit knowledge is in fact the dominant principle of all knowledge (Polanyi 1959, 24–5). Even the most highly formalized and scientific knowledge invariably follows from an intuition or an act of creation, which are simply manifestations of tacit knowledge. Moreover the new knowledge we can acquire through formulas, books, charts, maps and so on is important mainly because it helps us to reorganize our entire framework of practical, entrepreneurial information from different and increasingly rich and valuable perspectives, which in turn opens up new possibilities for the exercise of creative intuition. Therefore the impossibility of articulating practical knowledge manifests itself not only “statically”, in the sense that any apparently articulated statement contains information only insofar as it is interpreted through a combination of prior, inarticulable beliefs and knowledge, but also “dynamically”, since the mental process used in any attempt at formalized articulation is itself essentially tacit, inarticulable knowledge.
Another type of knowledge that cannot be articulated and that plays an essential role in the functioning of society is composed of the set of habits, traditions, institutions, and juridical and moral rules that comprise the law that make society possible, and that human beings learn to follow, though we cannot articulate in detail nor theorize about the precise functions that these rules and institutions perform in the various situations and social processes in which they are involved.
1.各种令人眼花缭乱的食物=the bewildering variety of foods，其中variety表示“种类，多样性”。
The exercise of entrepreneurship does not require any means. That is to say, entrepreneurship does not entail any costs and is therefore fundamentally creative. This creative aspect of entrepreneurship is embodied in its production of a type of profit which, in a sense, arises out of nothing, and which we shall therefore refer to as pure entrepreneurial profit. To derive entrepreneurial profit one needs no prior means, but only to exercise entrepreneurship well. It is particularly important to emphasize that any act of entrepreneurship brings about three extraordinarily significant effects. First, entrepreneurship creates new information. Second, this information is transmitted throughout the market. Third, the entrepreneurial act teaches each of the economic agents involved to tune their behavior to the needs of the others. These consequences of entrepreneurship, as the authors of the Austrian school have analytically formulated them, are so important that they are worth studying closely one by one.
2.从认知的角度理解=in cognitive terms，其中in terms表示“从……角度理解”。
Each entrepreneurial act entails the ex nihilo creation of new information or knowledge. This creation takes place in the mind of the person who initially exercises entrepreneurship. Indeed when a person we shall call “C” realizes that a profit opportunity exists, new information is created in his mind. Furthermore once “C” takes action and contacts, for instance, “A” and “B”, and buys cheaply from “B” a resource that “B” has too much of and then sells it at a higher price to “A”, who needs it urgently, new information is also created in the minds of “A” and “B”. “A” realizes that the resource she lacked and needed so desperately to accomplish her end is available elsewhere in the market in greater quantities than she had thought, and that therefore she can now readily undertake the action she had not initiated before due to the absence of this resource. For his part, “B” realizes that the resource he so abundantly possesses yet did not value is keenly desired by other people, and that therefore he should save and protect it, since he can sell it at a good price.
Thus the key importance of not disregarding anyone’s entrepreneurship. Even the humblest people, those of the lowest social status or most lacking in formal knowledge, will exclusively possess at least small bits or pieces of knowledge and information which can be of decisive value in the course of social events. From this standpoint, it is obvious that our concept of entrepreneurship is of an essentially humanistic nature, a concept which makes economics, as it is understood and advanced by members of the Austrian school, the quintessential humanistic science.
4.支配语法=dictate a grammar
The reason our political system was superior to those of all other countries was that the political systems of other countries had been created by introducing laws and institutions according to the personal judgment of particular individuals, like Minos in Crete and Lycurgus in Sparta . . . In contrast, our Roman republic is not the personal creation of one man, but of many. It has not been founded during the lifetime of any specific individual, but over a number of centuries and generations. For there has never been in the world a man intelligent enough to foresee everything, and even if we could concentrate all brainpower into the head of one man, it would be impossible for him to take everything into account at the same time, without having accumulated the experience which practice provides over the course of a long period in history.
5.涵盖规模=entail the dimensions
Luis Saravia de la Calle, who was the first to shed light on the true relationship between prices and costs in the market. Saravia de la Calle asserted that in any case, costs tend to follow prices and not vice versa. Thus he was before his time in exposing the errors of the objective theory of value, which the theorists of the English classical school would later develop, and which would provide the foundation for the exploitation theory of Karl Marx and his socialist successors. In his work, Instrucción de mercaderes (Instruction to Merchants), published in Spanish in Medina del Campo around the year 1544, Saravia de la Calle writes: Those who gauge the just price of an article by the labor, costs, and risks borne by the person who deals in or produces the merchandise are seriously mistaken; for the just price springs from the abundance or lack of goods, merchants, and money, and not from costs, labor, and risks. (Saravia de la Calle 1949, 53)
In this book Mariana plunges into a true Austrian-style analysis concerning the impossibility, due to a lack of information, that a government could organize civil society based on coercive commands. Indeed it is impossible for the state to obtain the information it needs to give a coordinating quality to its commands, and therefore its intervention tends to cause disorder and chaos. Thus, with reference to government, Mariana states: “It is a grave mistake for the blind to wish to lead the sighted.” He adds that the authorities “do not know the people, nor the events, at least in terms of all of their circumstances, upon which success depends. Inevitably they will commit many serious errors, and people will be troubled as a result and will scorn such a blind government.” Mariana concludes that “power and command are mad” and when “there are too many laws, as they cannot all be followed, or even known, respect is lost for all of them”
7.阻止和消除饥饿=stem and eradicate hunger
In short, the Scholastics of the Spanish Golden Age were able to articulate what would later become the key theoretical principles of the Austrian school of economics, specifically: first, the subjective theory of value (Diego de Covarrubias y Leyva); second, the correct relationship between prices and costs (Luis Saravia de la Calle); third, the dynamic nature of the market and the impossibility of realizing the equilibrium model (Juan de Lugo and Juan de Salas); fourth, the dynamic concept of competition understood as a process of rivalry between sellers (Castillo de Bovadilla and Luis de Molina); fifth, the principle of time preference (rediscovered by Martín de Azpilcueta); sixth, the profoundly distorting effect inflation exerts on the real economy (Juan de Mariana, Diego de Covarrubias and Martín de Azpilcueta); seventh, the critical analysis of fractional-reserve banking (Luis Saravia de la Calla and Martín de Azpilcueta); eighth, the recognition that bank deposits form part of the money supply (Luis de Molina and Juan de Lugo); ninth, the impossibility of organizing society via coercive commands, since the information necessary to give such commands a coordinating quality is lacking (Juan de Mariana); and tenth, the libertarian tradition that all unjustified intervention in the market constitutes a violation of natural law (Juan de Mariana).
8.某事由某人做出=something is initiated by somebody
To understand the influence that the Spanish Scholastics exerted on the subsequent development of the Austrian school of economics, we must especially remember that in the sixteenth century the Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V, sent his brother, Ferdinand I, to be King of Austria. Etymologically, “Austria” means “eastern part of the empire”, an empire which at that time encompassed practically all of continental Europe, with the only notable exception of France, which remained isolated and surrounded by Spanish forces. Therefore it is easy to understand how the Spanish Scholastics came to intellectually influence the Austrian school, a situation which was not a mere coincidence or caprice of history, but which arose from the intimate historical, political and cultural relations which developed between Spain and Austria beginning in the sixteenth century (Bérenguer 1993, 133–335). These relations would be maintained for several centuries, and Italy also played a vital role, as a cultural bridge across which the intellectual exchange between the far points of the empire (Spain and Austria) flowed. Thus there are strong arguments behind the thesis that, at least early on, the Austrian school embodied a Spanish tradition.
9.成功的学术生涯的先决条件=a prerequisite for a successful academic career
Very early on, the young Menger realized that the classical theory of price determination, as Adam Smith and his Anglo-Saxon followers had formulated it, left much to be desired. Menger’s personal observations of the functioning of the stock market (during one period he was a stock market correspondent for the Wiener Zeitung), along with his own research, led him to write at 31 years of age, in, according to Hayek, “a state of morbid excitement” (Hayek 1992, 69), the book which would officially give birth to the Austrian school of economics. In this book the author strove to establish the new foundations upon which he believed it was necessary to rebuild all economic science. These principles essentially included the development of an economic science which would always rest on “man”, viewed as a creative actor and the protagonist of all social processes and events (subjectivism), as well as, for the first time in the history of economic thought, the formulation, based on subjectivism, of an entire formal theory on the spontaneous emergence and evolution of all social (economic, legal and linguistic) institutions, understood as established behavior patterns. All of these ideas are incorporated in the book, Principles of Economics, which Menger published in 1871, and which would become one of the most influential works in the history of economic thought.
10.诠释语言的基本结构=unfold the fundamental structure of a language
He asserts that economic scientists should always adopt the subjective perspective of the acting human being, and that this perspective should exert a decisive influence on the way in which all economic theories are formulated. Hayek, in reference to this new subjectivist conception Menger proposes, even writes: “It is probably no exaggeration to say that every important advance in economic theory during the last hundred years was a further step in the consistent application of subjectivism.”
Let us suppose that Robinson Crusoe has just arrived on his island and spends his time picking berries from bushes by hand, his only means of subsistence. Each day he devotes all of his efforts to gathering berries, and he picks enough to survive and can even eat a few extra daily. After several weeks on this diet Robinson Crusoe makes the entrepreneurial discovery that with a wooden stick several meters long, he could reach higher and further, strike the bushes with force and gather many more berries in far less time. The only problem is that he estimates it could take him five whole days to find a suitable tree from which to take the stick and then prepare it by removing its branches, leaves and imperfections. During this time he would be compelled to interrupt his berry picking. If he wishes to act on his idea and produce the stick, he will have to somewhat reduce his consumption of berries for a number of days and store the remainder in a basket until he has enough to survive for five days, the predicted duration of the wooden stick’s production process. After planning his action Robinson Crusoe decides to undertake it, and therefore he must first save a portion of the berries he picks by hand each day, thus reducing his consumption by that amount. This clearly represents an inevitable sacrifice, which he nevertheless deems well worth his effort in relation to the goal he longs to achieve. So he decides to reduce his consumption (in other words, to save) for ten days, let us say, while storing his leftover berries in a basket until he has accumulated an amount that he estimates will be sufficient to sustain him while he produces the stick.
It is clear that, just as the difference between the “rich” Robinson Crusoe with the stick and the “poor” Robinson Crusoe without it lay in the capital good the former had obtained through prior saving, the essential difference between rich societies and poor societies does not stem from any greater effort that the former devote to work, nor even from any greater technological knowledge that the former hold. Instead it arises mainly from the fact that rich nations possess a more extensive network of capital goods wisely invested from an entrepreneurial standpoint. These goods consist of machines, tools, computers, software, buildings, semi-manufactured goods and so on, and they exist due to prior saving by the nation’s citizens.
In a modern economy present and future behaviors are reconciled through entrepreneurial activity in the market where present goods are exchanged for future goods and where the interest rate, the market price of one type of good in terms of the other, is established. Thus the more plentiful the savings, that is, the larger the quantity of present goods sold or supplied, other things being equal, the lower their price in terms of future goods; and consequently, the lower the market rate of interest. This indicates to entrepreneurs that more present goods are available to enable them to increase the length and complexity of the stages in their production processes, thereby making these stages more productive. In contrast, the fewer the savings, that is, other things being equal, the less willing economic agents are to give up immediate consumption of present goods, the higher the market rate of interest. Hence a high market rate of interest shows that savings are relatively scarce, an unmistakable sign that entrepreneurs must heed in order to avoid unduly lengthening the different stages in the production process and generating, as a result, discoordination or maladjustments which pose grave danger to the healthy, harmonious and sustained development of society. In short, the interest rate conveys to entrepreneurs which new productive stages or investment projects they can and should embark on and which they should not, in order to keep coordinated, as far as humanly possible, the behavior of savers, consumers and investors, and to prevent the different productive stages from remaining unnecessarily short or becoming too long.
Between 1920 and 1934 Mises organized, directed and held a famous economics seminar (Privatseminar) in his official office at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, where he was chief of the finance department and general secretary, and where his involvement gave Mises a strong influence over the economic policy of his country. This seminar, which was held on Friday evenings, was attended not only by students who were preparing their doctoral theses under Mises’s guidance, but also, via invitation, by highly prestigious economists from all over the world. The seminar meetings were attended regularly by Friedrich A. Hayek, Fritz Machlup, Gottfried von Haberler, Oskar Morgenstern, Paul L.M. Rosenstein-Rodan, Felix Kaufmann, Alfred Schutz, Richard von Strigl, Karl Menger (the mathematician son of Carl Menger, founder of the Austrian school) and Erich Voegelin, among the German-speaking participants. From the UK and the USA, Lionel Robbins, Hugh Gaitskell, Ragnar Nurske and Albert G. Hart attended, among others. Later, in the USA, Mises again offered his seminar at New York University, where it was held on Thursday evenings from the autumn of 1948 to the spring of
- Among the many participants during this second period, the then future professors Murray N. Rothbard and Israel M. Kirzner stand out.
Hayek always wished to avoid involvement in politics. Furthermore he considered the role of the intellectual, who must make scientific truth their chief goal in life, to be incompatible with the role of the politician, who is always obliged to yield to the dictates of public opinion to secure votes (Hayek 1991, 45). Hence Hayek believed that in the long term, efforts directed toward convincing intellectuals (thus his great success in founding the classical liberal Mont Pèlerin Society) or influencing public opinion would be much more productive. (Hayek dissuaded Anthony Fisher from entering politics and convinced him that it would be much more useful to create the Institute of Economic Affairs, and later the Atlas Research Foundation, to spread classical liberal ideas throughout the world.) So without the strategic initiatives that Hayek took, it would have been impossible to conceive of the change in public opinion and in the intellectual sphere which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and to the free market/conservative revolution that took place in the USA under Ronald Reagan and in the UK under Margaret Thatcher, a revolution which has exerted, and continues to exert, such a powerful influence on a worldwide scale.
we should comment on the development of the Austrian theory of competition and monopoly, which calls for the abandonment and reconstruction of the clumsy static theory of markets that is advanced in textbooks, and its replacement with a theory of competition, understood as a dynamic, purely entrepreneurial process of rivalry. Such a theory renders irrelevant or inexistent the problems of monopoly, understood in the traditional sense, and focuses on institutional restrictions on the free exercise of entrepreneurship in any sphere of the market. Furthermore an important economic policy corollary of the Austrian analysis of competition and monopoly is the reconsideration of all anti-trust policy and legislation, which from the Austrian perspective becomes largely detrimental and superfluous (Kirzner 1998–99, 67–77; Armentano 1972).