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Economic Theory of Costs: Foundations and New Directions

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The theory of costs is a cornerstone of economic thinking, and figures crucially in the study of human action and society.

Original contributions from: Newman, Salerno, Hülsmann, Herbener, Méra, Machaj, Topan and Bylund.
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The theory of costs is a cornerstone of economic thinking, and figures crucially in the study of human action and society. From the first day of a principles-level course to the most advanced academic literature, costs play a vital role in virtually all behaviors and economic outcomes. How we make choices, why we trade, and how we build institutions and social orders are all problems that can be explained in light of the costs we face.

This volume explores, develops, and critiques the rich literature on costs, examining some of the many ways cost remains relevant in economic theory and practice. The book especially studies costs from the perspective of the Austrian or “causal-realist” approach to economics. The chapters integrate the history of economic thought with contemporary research, finding valuable crossroads between numerous traditions in economics. They examine the role of costs in theories of choice and opportunity costs; demand and income effects; production and distribution; risk and interest rates; uncertainty and production; monopsony; Post-Keynesianism; transaction costs; socialism and management; and social entrepreneurship.

Together, these papers represent an update and restatement of a central element in the economic way of thinking. Each chapter reveals how the Austrian, causalrealist approach to costs can be used to solve an important problem or debate in economics. These chapters are not only useful for students learning these concepts for the first time: they are also valuable for researchers seeking to understand the unique Austrian perspective and those who want to apply it to new problems.


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Table of Contents

Introduction: "The Economic Theory of Costs in Perspective"

Matthew McCaffrey

Cost and Choice

Chapter 1:"Contemporary Debates on Opportunity Cost Theory and Pedagogy"

Jonathan Newman

Chapter 2: "The ‘Income Effect’ in Causal-Realist Price Theory"

Joseph T. Salerno

The Evolution of Causal-Realist Production Theory

Chapter 3:"From Marshallian Partial Equilibrium to Austrian General Equilibrium: The Evolution of Rothbard’s Production Theory"

Patrick Newman

Chapter 4: "Man, Economy and State, Original Chapter 5: Producer’s Activity"

Murray N. Rothbard

Risk, Uncertainty, and Cost

Chapter 5: "The Myth of the Risk Premium"

Jörg Guido Hülsmann

Chapter 6: "Time and the Theory of Cost"

Jeffrey M. Herbener

Causal-Realist Price Theory: Debate and Synthesis

Chapter 7: "Monopsony Theory Revisited"

Xavier Méra

Chapter 8: "Costs and Pricing: An Austro-Post-Keynesian Synthesis?"

Mateusz Machaj

Economic Organization, Entrepreneurship, and the Firm

Chapter 9: "Austrian Economics and Transaction Cost Economics: Notes on a Doubtful Compatibility"

Mihai-Vladimir Topan

Chapter 10: "The Management Problem of Socialism: Cost at the Expense of Value"

Per L. Bylund

Chapter 11: "Economic Calculation and the Limits of Social Entrepreneurship"

Matthew McCaffrey

ISBN 9781138670938
Publisher Routledge
Publication Date 9/1/2017
Binding HC
Page Length 270
Dimensions 6" x 9"