Austrian Economics In Shanghai

Extraordinary things are happening in China, as we know. On the liberty-loving front, we can report a really interesting and path-breaking conference organised by our friend Ken Schoolland: The Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit A milestone event this summer in China. Sponsored by the International Society for Individual Liberty, we have 20+ speakers, 8 from the Mont Pelerin Society, attendees from across Asia, Europe, and the US, and a post conference tour. On a related note, Sean Corrigan informs us of another exciting development for Chinese liberalism: Mao Yushi Wins the Cato Institute’s 2012 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing LibertyForbes

The Laissez Faire Club

A significant new development in the libertarian world …

Laissez Faire Books Launches the Laissez Faire Club by Geoffrey Allan Plauché on April 20, 2012 Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time. I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI. Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed. Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste. Laissez Faire Books will of course be publishing and selling ebooks and dead-tree books individually. They’re a bit pricey this way, if you ask me.  The way you’ll want to get these books and the added value that LFB has to offer, however, is to sign on to the new business model that promises to return the company to the center of the libertarian movement as a book publisher, seller, and community (with online forums). Yesterday, on the 19th of April, Jeffrey Tucker and LFB launched the Laissez Faire Club. This is an innovative subscription-based book club that offers a host of members-only benefits for the price of $10 per month, or $120 per year. Members will receive a 20% discount on all LFB products, a new ebook at no extra charge every week (in epub and mobi formats) as well as access to the entire archive of previously distributed ebooks, Tucker’s Take (short video book reviews by Jeffrey Tucker), free reports, live author interviews, a private online community forum shielded from search engines and prying eyes and drive-by trolls, and more now and to come. That sounds like a good deal to me. I signed up last night for a free trial, which comes with some free content that’s yours to keep even if you choose to cancel your membership before the free trial is up. In the information age, and in light of the illegitimacy of so-called intellectual property, how do you  make money publishing and selling books? Many are wailing and gnashing their teeth, rending their shirts, and lashing out in fear and lazy greed — unable to let go of their precious, state-supported publishing model, dependent on IP and an oligopoly over the publication and distribution of dead-tree books. The Big Six publishers don’t seem to have a clue. But I think it’s not really that hard to figure out: You treat your customers right, provide them with valuable content that they’ll want to ensure you’re able to continue providing, and sell them added value built around the books: reasonable prices, great customer service with a personal touch, knowledgeable and engaged staff, early access, extra content like free reports on how to circumvent the state legally or Tucker’s Take, personal engagement with their favorite authors, a private and secure community comprised of fellow lovers of liberty, and so on. Head on over to Laissez Faire Books to learn more about the new Laissez Faire Club and, if you’re a lover of liberty and books and books about liberty, become a member today.

Jim Grant on the Federal Reserve

Via ZeroHedge, we discovered a must-read article by Jim Grant, published in the March 23rd edition of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer (Vol 30, No 6d):

In the not quite 100 years since the founding of your institution, America has exchanged central banking for a kind of central planning and the gold standard for what I will call the Ph.D. standard. I regret the changes and will propose reforms, or, I suppose, re-reforms, as my program is very much in accord with that of the founders of this institution. Have you ever read the Federal Reserve Act? The authorizing legislation projected a body “to provide for the establishment of the Federal Reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper and to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.” By now can we identify the operative phrase? Of course: “for other purposes.”

Read the whole article.