by Lanny Ebenstein
Chicagonomics explores the history and development of classical liberalism as taught and explored at the University of Chicago. Ebenstein's tenth book in the history of economic and political thought, it deals specifically in the area of classical liberalism, examining the ideas of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, and is the first comprehensive history of economics at the University of Chicago from the founding of the University in 1892 until the present.
The reader will learn why Chicago had such influence, to what extent different schools of thought in economics existed at Chicago, the Chicago tradition, vision, and what Chicago economic perspectives have to say about current economic and social circumstances.
Chicagonomics enlightens the personal and intellectual relationships among leading figures in economics at the University of Chicago, including Jacob Viner, Frank Knight, Henry Simons, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Aaron Director, and Friedrich Hayek. He recasts classical liberal thought from Adam Smith to the present.
"Because he has written before on related subjects, Ebenstein (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) treads what is for him familiar ground. His thesis: well-known Chicago scholars, principally Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, were not always the free-market, take-no-prisoners libertarians people have come to love or loathe but in fact evolved over time, as did the 'Chicago School.' But with all due apologies to the Bard, the author doth protest too much. His obsession with inequality (in a treatment that is mediocre at best)—which he discusses from beginning to end of the book—compromises his ability to sift through complementary material and concomitant Chicago economists other than Frank Knight, Jacob Viner, and George Stigler. Missing completely are Friedman’s contemporaries—Arnold Harberger, Zvi Griliches, Gregg Lewis—and their modern-day descendants. Other giants—Gary Becker, Eugene Fama, Robert Lucas Jr., Merton Miller, Sam Peltzman—get short shrift. Appendixes include an interview with Friedman on Hayek and a letter from Paul Samuelson about Friedman. Researchers will appreciate and benefit from the 20-page bibliographical essay and superb endnotes. Summing Up: Optional. Graduate students, general readers."
- Short interview with Ebenstein about the book in the Santa Barbara Independent, 21 January 2016
Table of Contents of Chicagonomics
- Introduction: Historical Background of Chicagonomics
- Rockefeller's University and the Department of Political Economy
- Jacob Viner as Classical Liberal
- Frank Knight before Chicago
- Chicagoan and Austrian Economics in the 1930s
- Henry Simons and Progressive Taxation
- Cowles Commission and Keynes
- The Chicago School of Economics
- Chicago Economists in Academia
- Law and Economics, and Political Philosophy
- Hayek at Chicago: Philosopher of Classical Liberalism
- Friedman as Economist and Public Intellectual
- The 1980s Crescendo and Contemporary Libertarianism
- Conclusion: Current Applications of Chicagonomics
About Lanny Ebenstein
Lanny Ebenstein is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics at UCSB, teaching the history of economic and political thought. From 1990 to 1998, Dr. Ebenstein was an elected member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education. He has written ten books on the history of economic and political thought, including the first biographies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. His work is frequently cited in publications from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, and has been translated into a number of foreign languages. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.