Who is he: George A. Selgin is a professor of economics in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington DC, and an associate editor of Econ Journal Watch. Selgin formerly taught at George Mason University, the University of Hong Kong, and West Virginia University. Selgin's principal research areas are monetary and banking theory, monetary history, and macroeconomics.
Selgin is one of the founders, along with Kevin Dowd and Lawrence H. White, of the Modern Free Banking School, which draws its inspiration from the writings of Friedrich Hayek on denationalization of money and choice in currency. A central claim of the Free Banking School is that the effects of government intervention in monetary systems cannot be properly appreciated except with reference to a theory of monetary laissez-faire, analogous to the theory of free trade that informs the modern understanding of the effects of tariffs and other trade barriers.
Selgin is also known for his research on coinage, including studies of Gresham's Law and of private minting of coins during Great Britain's Industrial Revolution, and for his advocacy of a "productivity norm" for monetary policy – a plan that would have policymakers target the growth-rate of nominal gross domestic product at a level that would allow the overall price level to decline along with goods' real (unit) costs of production.
Background: George Selgin's childhood dream was to be a marine biologist or oceanographer, and those remained keen interests of his through college. Selgin ended up adding an economics major partly at his father's urging. In fact his father disliked Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand and looked forward to Selgin becoming a socialist- economist.
Yet, his father's own thinking changed after the collapse of socialism, so he was actually proud a few years before he passed away, when Dr. Selgin showed him a copy of a letter Milton Friedman had written recommending him for tenure!
Selgin became a fan of free markets by reading Atlas Shrugged as an undergraduate but didn't consider himself an objectivist for very long, if ever. He found their thinking simplistic. While at NYU, Selgin did consider himself an Austrian and, more precisely, a Misesian.
Despite the influence Hayek's Denationalisation of Money had on Selgin, he came to regard Hayek as rather too "soft." Eventually, Selgin decided that being an independent thinker was preferable to labels. Today, Selgin no longer thinks of himself as an Austrian, Randian or anything else. Not even a free-market economist. Selgin tries to conduct research irrespective of such labels. Selgin finds it lonely at times but believes it is the only way he can "stay true" to his values.
|04/18/10||George Selgin on Austrian Finance, Central Banks and the Virtues of Free Banking|