Michael Suede vs. Russ Roberts – Why Keynesians Always Get it Wrong (and Most Economists Too)

I had this rather interesting exchange with economist Russ Roberts, of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, that arose from my comments on a recent YouTube video that was posted by Reason magazine.

The conversation below was copied and pasted from the YouTube comments section of this video.  Roberts’ comments are in red.

  • I’d rather hear him say he considers himself more of a Rothbardian or Misesian than Hayekian. If the guy doesn’t consider himself to be a student of praxeology, then he’s still a phony economist. I’m not familiar enough with his work to comment much further.

    Michael Suede 4 days ago

  • i love rothbard and mises and quote them often, but i align mostly with hayek. the pretense of knowledge won him a Nobel prize for a reason, it is also why times said he ended the Keynesian debate, he won(hayek).

    surrealnumber in reply to Michael Suede 4 days ago

  • I’m curious if you believe private markets are the only means by which the value of a good or service can be accurately determined. Hayek didn’t believe that, and that’s why I have a problem with him. Are you a statist or a free market capitalist sir?

    Michael Suede in reply to surrealnumber 1 day ago

  • i am a free thinking individual who does not dismiss people for not being me. if you cant find a single thing to disagree with when it comes to rothbard or whomever, you are a fool.

    this is youtube, being a hostile douche with weak ass strawman arguments is standard i guess……

    surrealnumber in reply to Michael Suede 1 day ago

  • I never said Rothbard was perfect. However, there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who feel the use of coercion by the state to expropriate money and resources from its citizens can lead to superior economic outcomes, and those who reject that belief. What category do you fall into?

    Michael Suede in reply to surrealnumber 22 hours ago

  • sorry, i dont often answer to hostile interrogations, i never consented to you setting the rules of our discourse. your willingness to discredit peoples work based on one opinion they might hold is as frightening as any special interest zealot.

    surrealnumber in reply to Michael Suede 19 hours ago

So he’s apparently a “free thinking” economist who refuses to answer a simple question in regards to his beliefs about the free market.  Clearly this guy is a hack who should be avoided at all costs.  If he doesn’t even want to say that free markets are the only way the value of a good or service can be accurately determined, what kind of an economist should we take him to be?  Obviously he’s not the free market economist he bills himself as.  If he was, I doubt he would have become so defensive over such a simple question.

  • “…the pretense of knowledge won him a nobel for a a reason…”

    “There was a really serious threat to the ownership structure in Sweden during the 1970s, in effect, there was a proposal to buy out ownership entirely and turn it into a sort of worker-owned democracy. The political elites in Sweden were horrified by this and fought a tremendous battled against it. The way they fought was partly, again, through ideological mechanisms. The bankers controlled the Nobel Prize in economics, that went to Hayek, went to Friedman, that went to all the neoliberal figures to try to give legitimacy to all the neoliberal arguments.”
    Don’t take any wooden nickels, Mike.

    • Lasse Fair

      “The political elites in Sweden were horrified by this”

      Hardly. It was _their_ idea! The Social Democratic party was pretty much the definition of “political elite” in Sweden in those days.

  • Peter Surda


    with all due respect, you mixed economics and ethics.

    Also, with Rothbard there’s the issue with fiduciary media. Credit expansion causes the business cycle, but he was unable to provide a free market method of preventing credit expansion. He argued they should be banned because they violate property rights (which is false). Only after we have Bitcoin did a free market method emerge. Rothbard couldn’t have foreseen Bitcoin, but at least he should have figured out that credit expansion is a consequence of transaction costs, not of fraud. Paradoxically, almost all economists, including Austrians (even Selgin and White) realise that transaction costs influence the choice between specie and money substitutes. But none of them made the obvious conclusion that a medium of exchange with sufficiently low transaction costs would lead to absence of money substitutes and therefore absence of credit expansion.

    The gold standard proponents, in particular Rothbard, made a lot of effort on explaining how a legal reform towards gold standard should proceed. This is absurd, an anarchist arguing for a statist legal reform. In this particular topic, Rothbard was the statist and Hayek the anarchist.

    • As I told Roberts, I don’t think Rothbard was perfect. I simply consider him “more right” than Hayek in terms of his total economic philosophy. I even explicitly say I don’t think Rothbard was perfect.

      Also, I don’t think I’m mixing ethics and economics at all. Read what I wrote again, and point out where I’m making a moral judgement, rather than asking him for an economic position.

      I don’t think my questions were unreasonable in the slightest. If they guy believes in free markets, then he shouldn’t have any problem answering those two questions.

      • Micheal,

        you asked Russ Roberts what he believes. That’s not a question about praxeology.

        My point about Rothbard wasn’t that Rothbard was wrong as such. Indeed, everyone can be wrong. My point was that Rothbard turned to a statist in a particular case, because he believed that certain goals cannot be achieved without coercion. Why are you not subjecting Rothbard to the same level of criticism as Roberts?

        I believe that you can only evaluate individual arguments, not a person as such. Heck, even Krugman wrote some reasonable economic papers in the 80s. Russ Roberts, for example, coauthored the two Hayek vs. Keynes rap videos, and on one Econtalk he spoke with Gavin Andresen about Bitcoin, last year in April (and it was quite positive), before the big media attention.

        • It is clearly a question about praxeology. If he doesn’t believe in free markets, he’s obviously not a praxeologist! I’m trying to determine if he IS a praxeologist.

          I’m not subjecting Rothbard to the same level of criticism as Roberts because Rothbard is DEAD. My question is not whether the guy is an acolyte of Rothbard, my question was if the guy believes in free markets. Rothbard could be a pinko commie as far as my questions are concerned. My questions have nothing to do with Rothbard at all. Why should I go after Rothbard when the whole purpose of my questioning is to go after Roberts?

  • “I had this rather interesting exchange with economist Russ Roberts”
    What makes you think that ‘surrealnumber’ is Russ Roberts? I do not see any reason to think that from his comments or from his channel page.

    • Patterico

      It’s clearly not Russ Roberts.