Is Hayek less important today?

Nicolai Foss writes:

I have the feeling that the thought of Friedrich von Hayek is receiving less and less attention…among economists and other social scientists Hayek is increasingly attaining the status of a classical writer in the sense of Schumpeter – namely somebody who is cited and invoked, but mainly for ceremonial/ritualistic reasons and more often in footnotes than in the main text. In contrast, little use is made of his work for purposes of actual theory development.

The "Hayek Industry" continues, but it feels less focal to the profession.  It is also less fashionable for outsiders to respond to Hayek, as did Lucas and Stiglitz.  I attribute this to two factors.  First the shift toward empirical work makes Hayek less relevant to many mainstream debates.  Hayek’s work had implications for the work of Kenneth Arrow, but not for how abortion legalization affects the crime rate.  Furthermore central planning and business cycles — two of Hayek’s main areas — are no longer such hot topics.  Second is the blogosphere.  Many of Hayek’s insights are deep and relatively philosophical; it is hard to put them into a snappy blog post.  For better or worse, it is easier for a market-oriented blogger to follow Becker, Alchian, or even Mises than Hayek.  I also believe that the blogosphere will, in the long run, favor the thought of Tullock over Buchanan, for similar reasons.

By the way, here is Nicolai on economists’ autographs.


"Second is the blogosphere. Many of Hayek's insights are deep and relatively philosophical; it is hard to put them into a snappy blog post."

Who would need to when blogging is the very living out of his ideas on spontaneous order, the localism of knowledge and the inability of the centre to possess perfect knowledge?

Tullock over Buchanan? Is this because Gordon has an office down the
hall from you, Tyler, and Buchanan does not?

Thirty years after grad school, I finally got around to reading Hayek's "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (

It is stunningly good. Especially fun to read the week that Congress passes gas gouging legislation. So much of the old stuff is useful only for understanding past ideas; this article speaks to today's issues.

Non-economists want to know why economists can't produce a viable macroeconomics around which any theoretical consensus exists. Non-economists want to know why economists adopt then abandon one formalistic fashion after another. Non-economists want to know why economists so often use statistics in violation of the formal logic of that science. Non-economists want to know why economists use such silly models to understand growth (e.g. "one good" models) or money and the trade cycle ("representative agent" models. And non-economists want to know why economists are abandoning economics in favor of statistical sociology, neuroscience and psychology, etc.

In other words, non-economists want to know why economics is a pathological discipline. For answers to those questions the work of Friedrich Hayek will be continually relevant.

Did Stiglitz respond to Hayek? I recall Stiglitz (in Whither Socialsim) saying he couldn't
evaluate Hayek. Hayek wrote in English and not math. Poor Stiglitz couldn't
understand that, apparently. Yet, he does seem to understand Keynes.

I think, currently, the most interesting use of Hayek is outside economics. I've cited him in development anthropology essays.

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