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The role of praxeology in understanding the business cycle and its causes.


When examining the business cycle and its causes, praxeology, or the study of human action, offers a unique lens grounded in the Austrian School of Economics. The insights of economic history shed light on the intricate dynamics of economic booms and busts, with a particular focus on individual behaviour and the effects of government intervention.

The Central Role of Human Action:

The starting point of all economic analysis must be individual human action. In the context of the business cycle, this means examining how individuals (including entrepreneurs and consumers) respond to various economic stimuli, including interest rates, credit availability, and government policies.

Monetary Interventions and the Business Cycle:

The business cycle theory emphasizes the role of bank credit expansion, often encouraged by central banks, in causing economic booms. This artificially lowered interest rate can lead businesses to undertake longer-term investment projects, thinking they will be profitable. However, these projects may not align with actual consumer preferences.

This misallocation of resources due to distorted interest rate signals eventually results in a bust when it becomes apparent that these investments are not sustainable. The business cycle, in this view, is largely driven by monetary interventions causing boom-bust patterns.

This was first acknowledged by David Hume in the early 1800s, and no modern-day economist has yet been able to disprove this observation.

Knowledge Problems in Economic Calculation:

The knowledge problem is that no central authority could possess all the dispersed information present in an economy. When central banks, for instance, try to "manage" the economy by setting interest rates or implementing monetary policy, they operate without the full knowledge required to do so effectively. This exacerbates and even causes economic fluctuations. Yet these unaccountable bureaucrats take no responsibility for their very obvious failures and the harm they cause.

Unintended Consequences and Policy Interventions:

Economic analysis often highlights the gap between policy intentions and real-world outcomes. When governments or central banks intervene to prevent downturns or stimulate growth, they inadvertently set the stage for future economic disruptions. Praxeologically, one would examine how these interventions modify individual behaviours and potentially sow the seeds for the next phase of the business cycle.

Broader Societal Factors:

Beyond just monetary and fiscal policies, attention should be paid to broader societal, cultural, and historical factors that can influence economic outcomes. In the context of the business cycle, this might mean understanding how societal attitudes towards debt, saving, or risk-taking can amplify or mitigate economic fluctuations.

Role of Prices and Information:

Prices⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ in a market economy serve as critical information carriers, helping coordinate supply and demand. Interventions that distort price signals can, therefore, contribute to the misallocation of resources, which can play a role in the business cycle's dynamics.

Through the praxeological lens, the business cycle emerges as a complex interplay of individual actions, often influenced and sometimes distorted by monetary interventions and broader societal forces. Praxeology's emphasis on understanding the foundational role of human action provides a nuanced perspective on the causes and dynamics of economic booms and busts, stressing the importance of clear market signals and the potential pitfalls of well-intended but evidently destructive interventions. From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.


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