Who is he: Dr. Mark Thornton is an American economist who specializes in understanding Austrian free-market business cycle analysis. He is widely considered to be one of the foremost experts on Prohibition economics, and has written extensively on that topic as well as on the economics of the American Civil War and public finance. His writings have been consistently pro-tobacco.
Dr. Thornton has also been active in the political arena, making his first bid for office in 1984, when he ran for the US.Congress. Thornton became the first Libertarian Party office-holder in Alabama when he was elected Constable in 1988.
In addition to further political candidacies, Thornton also served in various capacities with the Libertarian Party of Alabama. In 1996 he became an economic advisor to the then Alabama Governor, Fob James.
Dr. Thornton has been a fulltime Senior Fellow for the Mises Institute for several years. Most of his job consists of research and writing. Thornton also serves as the master of ceremonies at several conferences and as the Book Review Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics and in many other capacities.
A major preoccupation of Dr. Thornton's today is the business cycle. He was able to detect the housing bubble and the subsequent top of the housing market, the stock market meltdown and the resulting market crisis. Thornton has edited a special issue of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics on the economic crisis.
Thorton also has an interest in the Civil War. His book Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War focuses on how the Civil War changed America. It changed monetary policy, but it also changed the Constitution and the ideology of the people. The war was the final break from the Republic established under the Articles of Confederation and was one of the first steps on the road to Empire.
Both Southerners and Northerners used tax and tariff policies to try to gain economic advantages before the War. Southerners were prepared to use tariffs (of a lower level than the Union) to drive trade into southern ports and to use the revenues to support public works projects like railroads.
Likewise, there were northerners who opposed Abraham Lincoln's policies and the war. He was saved by the support of the Northern banks. The banking profession has long been one of secrecy, trust and a balance of public opinion. England was split between its interest in southern cotton and northern wheat, so staying out of the war was probably the profitable thing to do.
According to Thornton, several of Lincoln's actions were unconstitutional and illegal, both before and during the war. As a president should avoid wars and economic upheavals, Thorton believes Lincoln failed to be a great president.
Background: Mark Thornton taught economics at Auburn University for a number of years, additionally serving as founding faculty advisor for the Auburn University Libertarians. Dr. Thornton also served on the faculty of Columbus State University.
When Dr. Thornton and Robert Ekelund were both professors at Auburn University, they, along with many others, served as peer review for a controversial study Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination, which was released by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute and funded by the Tobacco Institute.
|05/09/10||Mark Thornton on Lincoln's Folly, the Civil War and the Impact of the Business Cycle|