Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises Biography

Ludwig Edler von Mises was an Austrian economist, historian, philosopher and writer of Jewish origin, born on September 29, 1881 in Lemberg, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

From a very young age, Ludwig von Mises showed great concerns about history, economics and administration.

Ludwig von Mises studied Law and Economics at the University of Vienna, graduating from it in 1906. He was a professor at the same university from 1913 to 1938. He grew up in the brightest time of the great Austrian School of Economics, whose ideas allowed him to enter contact through reading the “Principles of Political Economy” by Carl Menger, who was the founder of the Austrian School of Economics.

In his own words, that reading was made by a true economist.

As a member of the Austrian School, he defended economic liberalism against socialism and the intervention of the State in the economic life of countries.

Attending the Seminar of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, who was presiding over the University of Vienna, allowed Ludwig von Mises to completely abandon socialist ideas.

After graduating as a lawyer, he worked for a number of years in civil, commercial and criminal courts as part of a law firm.

As a member of the Central Association for Housing Reform, where he was from 1909 to 1914, he succeeded in reducing property taxes, making him the association’s tax expert.

In 1909 he also started as an economic advisor to the Austrian Chamber of Industry, a position he held for 25 years, until he left Austria. What was his passion for research and teaching, he exercised it outside of his administrative activities.

In 1920, in favor of research, he constituted the Private Seminar, which he conducted and directed at the Chamber of Commerce, until his departure for Geneva. Those who participated in the Seminar were university graduates with doctorates, for which reason it enjoyed a reputation among both European and American intellectuals.

In 1934 he emigrated to Switzerland, where he was Professor of International Economic Relations at the University Institute of International Higher Studies, being able to exercise his passion for teaching again.

During his stay in Geneva he married Margit Herzfeld on July 6, 1938, after thirteen years of friendship and courtship.

In 1940 Ludwig von Mises and his wife decided to leave Geneva for fear of being captured by the Nazis, heading for New York. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1946, at age 65.

From 1945 to 1969 he was visiting professor at New York University, taking the opportunity to resume economic research. At 89, he retired from academic activity, the oldest active professor in the United States.

He died on October 10, 1973, at the age of 92, at St. Vincent Hospital in New York, United States.

Ludwig von Mises Publications

Within their publications most outstanding, we find the following books:

  • Theory of Money and Credit (1912)
  • Socialism (1922)
  • Liberalism (1927)
  • Critique of Interventionism (1929)
  • Epistemological Problems of Economics (1933)
  • Omnipotent Government (1944)
  • Bureaucracy (1944)
  • Human Action (1949) preceded by Economic Sciences (1940)
  • Theory and History (1957)
  • The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science (1962).

Ludwig von Mises also published more than two hundred essays, in which he dealt with topics such as the application of the positive method to economics, statism, and education.

Academic acknowledgments to Ludwig von Mises

The Austrian government and some international universities awarded academic recognitions to Ludwig von Mises for his contributions in the fields of Law, Politics and Economics:

  • Honorary Juris Doctor from Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania.
  • Austrian Medal of Honor for Science and Culture, for his work as an academic and his work in the area of ​​political science and economics.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Law conferred by the University of New York.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Political Science awarded by the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

Social contributions

Within the main social contributions from Ludwig von Mises we have:

Praxeology

Ludwig von Mises thought that economics was part of a larger social science: Praxeology. This science studies how the human mind forms thoughts so that we can deduce a priori what guides each person’s decisions.

Therefore, for von Mises, the Praxeology It is the method for studying the social sciences, which without conducting experiments allows predicting human behavior. And knowing what causes people’s behavior is a great contribution to the study of Economics.

Theory of Value

Ludwig von Mises explains the value of money through a supply and demand model. Therefore, the perception that individuals have of its purchasing power is very important.

Therefore, the central element of its theory of value of money is the purchasing power that people perceive as value to obtain goods. Since, without purchasing power, individuals would not use money, it would have no value.

Economic calculation

Ludwig von Mises believed that a system where there is a limited exchange rate for goods and services generates limited economic opportunities.

That is, if the State intervenes in the economy, it generates inefficient and unproductive processes, since it modifies prices and therefore, the utility that is obtained in the process.

Hence, his criticism of socialist systems, since he did not agree with the intervention of the State in the economy. For this reason, he supported the existence of a free economy, where the economic calculation offers great potential for exchange.

Democratic contributions

Ludwig von Mises was definitely against socialism, and he showed it through his criticism of interventionism, omnipotent governments and the bureaucracy.

In his book “Socialism” he asserted that a communist system was not efficient, since it did not have an adequate price setting mechanism.

This did not allow an appropriate distribution of resources to exist under socialism, which did occur in capitalist systems. This book, published in 1922, was a warning to many economies of the world by predicting well in advance the failure of socialism.

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