25 Jun 2010

Why the Rothbardians Will Win

All Posts 15 Comments

[UPDATE below.]

Wow I have been out of academia too long. I was just trying to buy Steve Horwitz’s book on free banking, and Tyler Cowen’s book on business cycles. They are each at least $170 used on Amazon. (Tyler’s book is 184 pages, while Horwitz’s is 228 pages. And though they are hardcover, I don’t think they’re hard because they’re made of ivory plating.)

In contrast, you can read just about everything Murray Rothbard ever wrote on banking (e.g.) for free from the Mises Institute, and heck if you want them to send you an actual book they’ll do it for a few bucks.

With an advantage like that, the Rothbardians will win. It doesn’t mean their arguments are better, but this isn’t even a fair fight.

UPDATE: OK Steve informs me that I was looking at his dissertation, which is out of print. (To which I say BAM.) But here is a paperback version of his later book, which is far more reasonably priced. However, I still don’t think I can get Tyler’s book for under $50. Do you concur?

15 Responses to “Why the Rothbardians Will Win”

  1. KP says:

    You can get Free Banking by Larry Sechrest from the Mises Institute fairly cheap.

  2. Taylor says:


    Did you check Half.com? I don’t know why the prices would be substantially different because then there would be an opportunity for arbitrage, but I have noticed within Half.com or even within Amazon.com’s used sellers there are often price discrepancies (even within exact or near quality matches) of $30, 40, sometimes even $50 or more.

    These are not efficient markets, in other words… surely a central planner regulatory solution is necessary!

  3. ADA says:

    I am reading Horwitz’s book right now and I got it for about $30 soft cover at amazon a few weeks ago.

  4. Mitchell Powell says:

    Whoever utilizing restrictive copyright is conspiring to suppress his own work. It’s worse than censoring, because at least when you’re being censored someone else is doing the work of suppressing your work. You’re absolutely right. As long as non-Rothbardians use restrictive copyright, they will continue to lose ground. And, if you ask me, that’s as it should be.

  5. Michael Suede says:


    This is ridiculous.

    We should have Suedeians.

    I want my own horde of followers named after my greatness.

    Perhaps Murphians or Bobians would be allowed into my utopia if they promised to play nice.

    • bobmurphy says:

      I want my own horde of followers named after my greatness.

      Write something great.

  6. Blackadder says:

    You can read Tyler’s blog for free.

  7. Jeremy H. says:

    GMU is in the process of putting all old dissertations in electronic form. Horwitz’s should be available. If you don’t have access, let me know.

  8. Minority Report says:

    Meh. I sell books used on amazon. There’s an odd dynamic with rare items, (which I happen to buy and sell a lot of). At some point, there are none on sale. Then somebody lists one and hopes he can make a killing. (occasionally you can.) He lists it for waaaaaay more than he paid for it. Maybe a thousand times more. Then somebody else lists a copy and underbids him by a bit. Third person does same. Price eventually reaches $0.01, barring sufficient demand to stop it at some higher level. You can see the dynamic on this book here: Michelle Remembers; the book that started the 1980’s ‘satanic panic’


    Just scroll down the list and see the process in reverse order. Why sell books for 0.01$? you make a tiny amount on the shipping and handling– about a dollar spread on a 1 lb. paperback between what amazon pays you and what you pay for “book rate” shipping in the continental U.S.

    Anyway, sufficiently rare items always wind up with a ridiculous price at some point, even if there are no buyers at that price (doesn’t hurt to ask, right?). I encourage you to track these two books down the line and see if they reach a penny.

    Anyway, I always buy from the alternate sellers on amazon, because, oddly enough, the smaller the seller, the faster and better the service tends to be. Sellers with combo of random word+random number for a name are almost always instant service Established bookstores are slower and will occaisionally fail to deliver because they are listing books that are on retail shelves and thus occaisionally get lost/stolen.

    • Minority Report says:

      call me XEMU1186

  9. Steve Horwitz says:

    The 1992 book Bob mentioned first is the book version of my dissertation. They are not identical, but they are pretty close. For what Bob was looking for, which was the most complete statement of the fractional reserve – free banking – monetary equilibrium position, I suggested my 2000/2009 book was probably the best bet. George Selgin’s *The theory of Free Banking* is also excellent, of course, as is Larry White’s *Free Banking in Britain* which is free on the IEA web page.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Oh OK thanks Steve. I didn’t know that about Larry White’s book.

  10. Current says:

    FYI I wrote a critique of a Toby Baxendale’s 100% reserve plan over at the Cobden centre site:

    My target is mainly 100% reserve banking with state fiat money, not all of the points I’ve made apply to a 100% reserve gold standard.

  11. Greg Ransom says:

    You can read chunks of Tyler Cowen’s book free at Google Books.

  12. George Selgin says:

    My Theory of Free Banking is also available absolutely free on the Online Library of Liberty. (Take that, Rothbardians!)