The argument here is that financial markets don’t add much value, if any at all. A contention well up there with 2+2 = 5 in its usefulness. For to gain this insight it is necessary to entirely ignore the people doing the buying and the selling. Something really a bit strange – to the point of drivel – among those on the right who might be expected to support things like private property and the ability to acquire and dispose of it.
There are significant differences between order that is made and order that emerges spontaneously. Safety measures that emerge from a spontaneous order are infinitely adaptable as they rely on the creative power of free people. An emerging array of safety measures would have a [to quote Hayek] “degree of complexity not limited to what a human mind can master.” In a planned order, safety measures imposed by politicians are authoritarian, depend on the limited knowledge of people, and may be motivated by a lust for power. Imposed orders are not adaptable and so can be infinitely cruel.
‘But it is all necessary’, the lockdowners cry. This was questionable from the very start of the lockdown. Now it is utterly untenable. The lockdown was justified as a temporary measure to ensure that the NHS was not pushed to breaking point by the hundreds of thousands of Covid cases that the ideologues of doom predicted. The cases never came. Many hospitals are half-empty. The lockdown’s justification has evaporated.
I’m very sorry to learn of the death of the great Nobel-laureate economist Oliver Williamson . (During my first year on GMU’s faculty – 1985-86 – I reviewed his superb 1985 magnum opus, The Economic Institutions of Capitalism . [The review isn’t on-line, but Pete Boettke last night kindly sent me this photo of it .] Much to my surprise, not long after my review was published, I received a lovely and warm letter from Williamson thanking me for the review. His was a kind gesture to an unknown and unpromising young assistant professor.)