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Uncertainty in the Austrian Theory of Capital

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  • Stefan W. Schmitz

    (ICE, Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Abstract

This paper is based on the traditional Austrian Theory of Capital which deals with expected values of future returns of investments over various periods of time. The longer the time period that elapses between the beginning of a production process and its end, the higher the (expected) productivity must be due to positive time preferences of individuals. This paper focuses on the uncertainty of future returns and on uncertainty preferences, instead. Based on the Hayekian idea of the dispersion of knowledge in society, it will be shown that there is a systematic relationship between the structure of capital and uncertainty. This result will be derived for a production process characterized by complete vertical integration and one which is not completely vertically integrated. The distinction between these two settings is crucial, if one accepts the distinction between an individual and a social period of production and the planning horizon which are introduced in this paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan W. Schmitz, 2002. "Uncertainty in the Austrian Theory of Capital," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0211001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmh:0211001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on wordfile on mac; pages: 37; figures: none. Submitted to Review of Austrian Economics
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/mhet/papers/0211/0211001.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Morishima,Michio, 1992. "Capital and Credit," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521418409, July.
    2. Foss Kirsten & Foss Nicolai & Klein Peter G. & Klein Sandra K., 2002. "Heterogeneous Capital, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Organization," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-20, March.
    3. Lewin, Peter, 1997. "Rothbard and Mises on Interest: An Exercise in Theoretical Purity," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 141-159, April.
    4. Dow, James & Werlang, Sergio Ribeiro da Costa, 1992. "Uncertainty Aversion, Risk Aversion, and the Optimal Choice of Portfolio," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 197-204, January.
    5. Hoppe, Hans-Hermann, 1997. "On Certainty and Uncertainty, or: How Rational Can Our Expectations Be?," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 10(1), pages 49-78.
    6. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
    7. Israel M. Kirzner, 1997. "Entrepreneurial Discovery and the Competitive Market Process: An Austrian Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 60-85, March.
    8. Peter Lewin, 1994. "Capital theory," Chapters, in: Peter J. Boettke (ed.), The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics, chapter 31, Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. George Bitros, 2008. "Why the structure of capital and the useful lives of its components matter: A test based on a model of Austrian descent," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 21(4), pages 301-328, December.
    2. Robert Mulligan, 2006. "Accounting for the business cycle: Nominal rigidities, factor heterogeneity, and Austrian capital theory," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 19(4), pages 311-336, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Austrian Economics; Uncertainty; Capital Theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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