Ludwig Von Mises

Ludwig Von Mises books and biography

Ludwig von Mises

Name: Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises
Birth: September 29, 1881 (Lemberg (now Lvov), Austria-Hungary)
Death: October 10, 1973 (New York City, New York, USA)
School/tradition: Austrian Economics
Main interests: Economics, Political Economy, Philosophy of History, Epistemology, Rationalism, Classical Liberalism, Minarchism
Notable ideas: Praxeology, Economic Calculation Problem, Methodological Dualism
Influences: Aristotle, Kant, Carl Menger, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Franz Brentano, Jean-Baptiste Say, Frédéric Bastiat, A.R.J. Turgot
Influenced: Friedrich von Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, Israel Kirzner, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Joseph Schumpeter, Max Weber, Milton Friedman, Lionel Robbins, Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Maurice Allais, Oskar Lange, Henry Calvert Simons, Sir John Richard Hicks, Ludwig Lachmann, W.H. Hutt, Ayn Rand, Lew Rockwell, Henry Hazlitt, Joseph Salerno, George Reisman, Peter Bauer, Vernon L. Smith

Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) was a notable economist and a major influence on the modern libertarian movement. He has been called the "uncontested dean of the Austrian School of economics".[1].


Childhood and family background

Ludwig von Mises was born in Lemberg, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now the city of Lviv, Ukraine, where his father was stationed as a construction engineer. Physicist Richard von Mises was Ludwig's younger brother. Another sibling died in infancy. When Ludwig and Richard were small children, his family moved back to their ancestral home of Vienna.

In 1900, he attended the University of Vienna, becoming influenced by the works of Carl Menger. Mises' father died in 1903, and in 1906 Ludwig was awarded his doctorate.

This is the Coat of arms of Ludwig von Mises's great-grandfather Mayer Rachmiel Mises, awarded upon his 1881 ennoblement by Franz Joseph I of Austria.
This is the Coat of arms of Ludwig von Mises's great-grandfather Mayer Rachmiel Mises, awarded upon his 1881 ennoblement by Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Professional life

In the years from 1904 to 1914, Mises attended lectures given by the prominent Austrian economist Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk. Mises taught at the Vienna University in the years from 1913 to 1934, while also serving as a principal economic adviser to the Austrian government.

To avoid the influence of National Socialists in his Austrian homeland, and fearing repression due to his Jewish ancestry[2] (while being a Roman Catholic of faith), in 1934 Mises left for Geneva (Switzerland), where he was a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies until 1940. In 1940, he emigrated to New York City. He was a visiting professor at New York University from 1945 until he retired in 1969, though he was not salaried by the university. Instead, he earned his living from funding by businessmen. For part of this period he worked on currency issues for the Pan-Europa movement led by a fellow NYU faculty member and Austrian exile, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi.[3]

Despite his growing fame, Mises listed himself plainly in the New York phone directory and he welcomed students freely to his home. Mises died at the age of 92 at St Vincent's hospital in New York.

Contributions to the field of economics

Mises wrote and lectured extensively on behalf of classical liberalism and is seen as one of the leaders of the Austrian School of economics. In his treatise on economics, Human Action, Mises revealed the conceptual foundation of economics called praxeology, the science of human action, establishing economic laws of apodictic certainty rejecting positivism and material causality. Many of his works, including Human Action, were on two related economic themes:

  1. monetary economics and inflation;
  2. the differences between government controlled economies and free trade.

Mises argued that money is demanded for its usefulness in purchasing other goods, rather than for its own sake and that any expansion of the money supply, not backed by specie, causes business cycles. His other notable contribution was his argument that socialism must fail economically because of the economic calculation problem—the impossibility of a socialist government being able to make the economic calculations required to organize a complex economy. Mises projected that without a market economy there would be no functional price system, which he held essential for achieving rational allocation of capital goods to their most productive uses. Socialism would fail as demand cannot be known without prices, according to Von Mises. Mises' criticism of socialist paths of economic development is well-known.

The only certain fact about Russian affairs under the Soviet regime with regard to which all people agree is: that the standard of living of the Russian masses is much lower than that of the masses in the country which is universally considered as the paragon of capitalism, the United States of America. If we were to regard the Soviet regime as an experiment, we would have to say that the experiment has clearly demonstrated the superiority of capitalism and the inferiority of socialism.[4]

These arguments were elaborated on by subsequent Austrian economists such as Hayek.

Mises in his library
Mises in his library

In Interventionism, An Economic Analysis (1940), Ludwig von Mises wrote:

The usual terminology of political language is stupid. What is 'left' and what is 'right'? Why should Hitler be 'right' and Stalin, his temporary friend, be 'left'? Who is 'reactionary' and who is 'progressive'? Reaction against an unwise policy is not to be condemned. And progress towards chaos is not to be commended. Nothing should find acceptance just because it is new, radical, and fashionable. 'Orthodoxy' is not an evil if the doctrine on which the 'orthodox' stand is sound. Who is anti-labor, those who want to lower labor to the Russian level, or those who want for labor the capitalistic standard of the United States? Who is 'nationalist,' those who want to bring their nation under the heel of the Nazis, or those who want to preserve its independence?


  • The Theory of Money and Credit
  • Nation, State, and Economy
  • Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
  • Critique of Interventionism
  • Liberalism
  • Epistemological Problems of Economics
  • Omnipotent Government: The Rise of Total State and Total War
  • Bureaucracy
  • Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
    • preceded by Nationalökonomie in 1940 (Full German text in PDF)
  • Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution
  • The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality
  • The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science

See also

  • Austrian School
  • Praxeology
  • Contributions to liberal theory
  • Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  • Liberalism in Austria
  • Libertarianism
  • List of Austrian scientists
  • List of Austrians
  • Ludwig von Mises Institute
  • Mont Pelerin Society
  • Murray Rothbard
  • Richard von Mises - Ludwig von Mises' brother
  • Karl Polanyi - with whom von Mises debated leading to Polanyi's book The Great Transformation


  1. ^ Who was Ludwig von Mises?. Ludwig von Mises Institute web site. Retrieved on 2006-04-08.
  2. ^ On Von Mises PDF, also see Richard von Mises article.
  3. ^ Coudenhove-Kalergi, Richard Nikolaus, Graf von (1953). An idea conquers the world. London: Hutchinson, p.247. 
  4. ^ Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis -

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