Concise Encyclopedia Biography of Kirzner

Steve Horwitz’s recent post, “Marginal Revolutionaries: Kirzner and the Modern Austrians,” August 19, 2020, references the bio of Israel Kirzner in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I finished the bio a couple of months ago and it was posted last month. Steve’s post reminded me that I had forgotten to call attention to it.

In researching the bio, I read Kirzner’s 1973 book, Competition and Entrepreneurship much more carefully than I had in 1973 at the behest of one of my UCLA professors, Ben Klein. Ben was rare in that he came out of the University of Chicago but was his own man from the get-go. He found a lot of value in Kirzner’s book and recommended that his UCLA Ph.D. students buy it. I did so and enjoyed it, but my mind at age 69 is better at nuances than my mind at one third that age.

Here’s a highlight of the bio:

The main difference between Kirzner’s entrepreneur and Schumpeter’s is that Schumpeter’s entrepreneur upsets an existing equilibrium by introducing a new product or a new production technique, while for Kirzner, the entrepreneur “has an equilibrating influence.” Kirzner writes, “For me the important feature of entrepreneurship is not so much the ability to break away from routine as the ability to perceive new opportunities which others have not yet noticed.”

Read the whole thing.

Thanks to Richard Ebeling for reading the bio carefully and giving me suggestions, especially about  finders-keepers.



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Is it Live or is it a Metonymy?

What are the essential features of the university? What features should survive and what might not in the wake of COVID? In this, our 750th (!) episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back “the Cy Young of EconTalk guests,” Mike Munger to discuss the future of higher education.

Munger believes “top” schools can emerge from the current period of uncertainty to thrive in the long run. The path for “second-tier” institutions could be more difficult. What do you think? Use our prompts below to help us continue the conversation.



1- Munger describes four buildings on campus that capture the university experience today. What are they, and what are the purported functions of each? To what extent can each be “unbundled?” Which are more or less likely to be reformed? Explain.


2- Munger waxes nostalgic about how universities used to be explicitly humanistic. Why does he believe that colleges today have failed at the inculcation of students into the life of the mind? To what extent is this really a problem?


3- Which is better- in person or remote learning? On what grounds do you base your answer? Munger says comparing a great professor to a recorded lecture isn’t the right comparison. So what is?


4- What is the “B.A. divide?” How do modern universities privilege the wealthy, according to Munger? Again, what exactly is the problem with this? And how do you see this influencing the effects of COVID on universities?


5- Why do Munger and Roberts believe you should “read the classics,” What has been your experience with “very old books? How did it affect your ability to think? What books have most influenced your own education?



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Guest Contribution: “The Significance of Gold’s Record $2,000 Price”

Today, we present a guest post written by Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.  A shorter version appeared in Project Syndicate.   The price of gold reached an all-time record high of $2,000 per ounce this month.  Mainstream economic thinking has treated gold […]

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