Political Events and Economic Ideas
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Political Events and Economic Ideas

Edited by Ingo Barens, Volker Caspari and Bertram Schefold

The influence of political developments on the evolution of economic thought is the main theme behind this book. As the authors reveal throughout the book, history has shown many times that political events can trigger the formulation of new economic conceptions that in turn influence the future economic development of a country.
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Chapter 14: The End of an Era: The Austrian Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie in the Interwar Period

Kurt W. Rothschild


Kurt W. Rothschild Some hundred and thirty years ago economic theory was revolutionized by a new approach which had been hinted at by several economists before (e.g. Thünen, Gossen, Cournot) but which only around 1870 was presented in a compact and consistent version simultaneously and independently by three important pioneers of economic theory. I am of course talking of the socalled marginal revolution and of Jevons, Menger and Walras. Though fundamentally closely related each of these approaches represents a special version of the basic ideas. But while these basic ideas soon became an important and lasting element in economic theorizing all over the world, the special versions had their own history and their own fortunes. In the decades which followed the ‘discovery’ of the new approach it was at first the English and the Austrian versions which caught on and were soon adopted by a large section of the scientific community. Walras’ mathematical exposition was not adapted to an economic theoretical establishment which had either no mathematical training at all or – even when some mathematical knowledge existed – was largely used to adopt a verbal presentation. Thus Walras could to begin with only take second place with regard to recognition and utilization. Only when later the conditions for an understanding of his formal language had improved, not least under the influence of John Hicks’ stimulating work Value and Capital (published in 1939), did Walras’ approach experience a revival and a broad appreciation which it has maintained ever since....

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