by Federico N. Fernández
On December 13, the Hayek Institut, in partnership with LGT Bank, Austrian Economics Center and Swarovski Kristallwelten, had the honor of awarding the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Awards to Freedom Champions, the American economist Richard W. Rahn and the Guatemalan political commentator Gloria Alvarez.
The event marked the first time ever that two laureates were awarded the prestigious prize, and took place at the historical Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in Vienna, Austria. Respected and well known figures, Prince Michael von und zu Liechtenstein and Lawrence Goodman, President of the New York based Center for Financial Stability, gave tributes to the awardees. Moreover, Barbara Kolm (President of the Hayek Institut) and Meinhard Platzer (co-CEO of LGT Bank Austria) welcomed the numerous attendants and gave the opening remarks.
The 2018 Laureates
Dr. Richard W. Rahn
Richard W. Rahn is an economist with an extensive and fruitful career. A tireless defender of Freedom, he currently has a weekly economic column at The Washington Times. He is also the Chairman of Improbable Success Productions — a documentary film production company, specializing in telling the stories of successful countries and enterprises.
In 1982, President Reagan appointed Dr. Rahn as a member of the Quadrennial Social Security Advisory Council. Moreover, during the 1988 Presidential campaign, he was an economic advisor to President George H.W. Bush. However, Europe is not unkown territory for Dr. Rahn. In 1990–1991, he served as the U.S. Co-chairman of the Bulgarian Economic Growth and Transition Project. He is also a frequent speaker of the Free Market Road Show, which is the biggest libertarian event in the world and tours approximately 40 cities across Europe and the Caucasus every year.
He is the author of the celebrated “Rahn Curve.” The Rahn Curve suggests that there is an optimal level of government spending which maximises the rate of economic growth. Based on this curve, it has been stated that the optimal level of government spending is between 15 and 25 percent of GDP.
Gloria Álvarez’ career span is shorter, but certainly as bright as Mr. Rahn’s. Ms. Álvarez rose to stardom thanks to a viral video of a speech she gave in Zaragoza, Spain, against the populist governments of Latin America. Her intervention was watched more than 20 million times and transformed the Guatemalan political scientist into an instant anti-populist powerhouse. When the story of how Chávez-style populism was defeated in Latin America is written, the name Gloria Álvarez will need at least a few chapters.
She is currently working on a project with former news anchor John Stossel and ReasonTV. Their objective is to produce short videos which debunk the current siren calls of “democratic socialism”, with the first videos already gathering them a large fellowship on YouTube.
In addition, Ms. Álvarez is the author of the book Cómo hablar con un progre (How to talk to a progressive) in which she expands her efforts in order to deconstruct the underpinning myths of the Left. In the book, she dismantles common beliefs and misconceptions of the typical progressive with humor and simplicity.
Finally, Ms. Álvarez made her debut at the Free Market Road Show in 2017, where she spoke in more than ten cities. Each and every one of them were fully packed events. She will join the FMRS once more next year.
A Distinguished List
Both Richard W. Rahn and Gloria Álvarez were offered the Rising Star, created by Swarovski Kristallwelten. They also received a certificate signed by the Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith , who is the Honorary President of the Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institut.
Dr. Rahn and Ms. Álvarez have joined an outstanding list of recipients of the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award. Indeed, since 2010 Niall Ferguson, Mario Vargas Llosa, Dambisa Moyo, Leonard Liggio, Deirdre McCloskey, Peter Thiel, and Arthur Laffer have been awarded.
Federico N. Fernández is a Senior Fellow at the Austrian Economics Center and the President of Fundación Internacional Bases.