16782629477_269a81625c_zI’m on my way back to Vienna after a few -but very fruitful- hours in Skopje (Macedonia). The reason I came to this lovely part of the Balkans is that the International Balkans University in association with the Austrian Economics Center held the “International Roundtable” on March 31st.

The event focused on Austrian Economics, Open Society and the economic and political situation in the Balkans. The speakers were Barbara Kolm, Gunther Fehlinger, Federico N. Fernández, and Violeta Madzova and Mevludin Ibish — both professors at the International Balkan University.

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by Sydney Williams

“In this world, nothing is certain, except death and taxes:” A line usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin and with which it is difficult to argue; though I can state categorically that I am certainly the son of my mother. On the other hand, certainty in opinions is usually associated with a mule-like stubbornness, or unquestioning obeisance – neither a characteristic we would like to think of as being ours – but ones common among the political and pontificating classes, the latter of which I admit to being a member. Curiosity, openness and skepticism are as proper antonyms for certainty as uncertainty.

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by John Charalambakis

Could the markets suddenly unravel? Of course they could. The fiat monetary system is like a mirage, it can tumble because of underestimated circumstances. Imagine for example Greece abruptly leaving the Eurozone, defaulting on its EFSF loans of €240 billion, its Target2 obligations of more than €80 billion, and the ELA assistance of close to €75 billion.

All of a sudden all the Eurozone central banks (including the ECB) would need to be recapitalized, and all Eurozone states would have to write down the losses in their budgets!

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by Andrew Lilico

Many defences of capitalism, markets or free enterprise focus upon what we might call their “technical” advantages. Such defences argue that markets are “efficient”, that they promote “incentives” to hard work, trustworthiness and imagination, that they allow economic agents to discover their own preferences, that they convey economically relevant information around the economic system quickly, cheaply and effectively, that in practice they foster growth and prosperity better than alternative economic orders.

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by Michael Strong

Why isn’t Honduras prosperous? Why do more than 100,000 Hondurans leave each year and risk their lives to get to the United States, where most of them will become illegal immigrants with no rights?+

Conversely, why is China becoming prosperous so rapidly? In the past 20 years hundreds of millions of Chinese have escaped poverty. Averages urban wages in China today are more than five times what they were 20 years ago. What can be done to ensure that working-class Hondurans earn five times as much 20 years from now?+

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by New Economic School Georgia

Georgia’s economic story after the collapse of the Soviet Union (SU) is important to be considered and analyzed in Georgia and in any developing and transition economy nations. There are several reasons why Georgia’s experience is interesting and valuable. First of all, it shows almost all the wrong sides of central planning and a centralized, bureaucratized and command economic system. But also, the Georgian experience is a good one to analyze the colonial type of economic relationship that existed in the soviet empire and the unified monetary and fiscal policies that it used.

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by Jeffrey Tucker

Microsoft announced this month that it was finally taking Internet Explorer out behind the woodshed, officially ending its two decade reign as the king (and then later the court jester) of web browsers.

The main focus of media coverage has been how IE was outcompeted by Firefox, Safari, and Chrome — not to mention mobile apps that are rapidly overtaking traditional computer programs as a share of Internet browsing. But once upon a time, Internet Explorer ruled the World Wide Web.

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by Chris Deerin

Britain is seven years on from the crash, and in a position where the Chancellor feels able to bum about higher living standards and stronger growth as he smirks his way through the Budget. But the fact is that the contract between capital and society that sustained for the latter part of the 20th century and into the early years of the 21st has been destroyed. The public is denying permission for a return to business as usual and instead watches, sullen, untrusting and angry, as the Establishment attempts to move on.

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by Richard Ebelling

We live in an era in which few can even conceive of a world without the welfare state. Who would care for the old? How would people provide for their medical needs? What would happen to the disadvantaged and needy that fell upon hard times? In fact, there were free market solutions and non-government answers to these questions long before the modern Big Government Welfare State.

In fact, before the arrival of modern welfare state, voluntary, private-sector institutions had evolved to serve as the market providers for many of those “social services” now viewed as the near-exclusive prerogative of the government. Unfortunately, after nearly a century of increasing political and cultural collectivism, the historical memory of the pre-welfare state era has all but been lost.

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by Radovan Durana

Funded pension schemes in CEE countries, sometimes called II. pillars, experienced significant changes in last few years. It was almost eliminated in Hungary, heavily cut in Poland, torpedoed in Bulgaria and the Czech Parliament is just voting on its closure. Other countries, not listed in previous sentence, mostly decreased the portion of contributions. II. pillar is not doing well also in Slovakia.

The pension reform was introduced ten years ago, yet the anniversary was not celebrated. This is the first year of payout phase.

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