≡ Menu

The Quotable Buchanan

As promised, to commemorate Jim Buchanan having reached the age of 90 I will post here at the Cafe a series of quotations from Buchanan’s extensive works.  The one below is from his 1963 Presidential address — entitled “What Should Ecnomists Do? — to the Southern Economic Association:

The “market” or market organization is not a means toward the accomplishment of anything.  It is, instead, the institutional embodiment of the voluntary exchange processes that are entered into by individuals in their several capacities.  Individuals are observed to cooperate with one another, to reach agreements, to trade.  The network of relationships that emerges or evolves out of this trading process, the institutional framework, is called “the market.”  It is a setting, an arena, in which we, as economists, as theorists (as “onlookers”), observe men attempting to accomplish their own purposes, whatever these may be [original emphasis].

On page 38 of James M. Buchanan, The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty, Vol. 1 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan (1999).


Next post:

Previous post: