Books

Mainline Economics: Six Nobel Lectures in the Tradition of Adam Smith (edited with Peter J. Boettke and Stefanie Haeffele-Balch). Mercatus Center, 2016.

Adam Smith is often referred to as the father of modern economics. Throughout his work, he attempted to answer one of the most important questions of all time: How can we humans live together peacefully and prosperously? The mainline of economic thought attempts to address the questions Smith advanced and is defined by a set of positive propositions about social order that were held in common from Adam Smith onward.

The six Nobel Laureates in Economics featured in this volume—F. A. Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Ronald H. Coase, Douglass C. North, Vernon L. Smith, and Elinor C. Ostrom—are the ones who have most consistently sought to advance the insights found in Adam Smith.

In their Nobel lectures, these scholars embrace the propositions of mainline economics and argue for continued work within the mainline tradition. Additionally, they offer serious critiques of mainstream economics and make appeals urging a return to the mainline.

This collection will serve as a useful resource for anyone interested in learning more about the mainline economists and for scholars who seek to contribute research in the mainline tradition.

Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship (with Stefanie Haeffele-Balch and Laura E. Grube), Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. ISBN: 978-1137559715.

Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. Communities must have residents who can not only gain access to the resources that they need to rebuild but who can also overcome the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts. Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster argues that entrepreneurs, conceived broadly as individuals who recognize and act on opportunities to promote social change, fill this critical role. Using examples of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Hurricane Sandy on the Rockaway Peninsula in New York, the authors demonstrate how entrepreneurs promote community recovery by providing necessary goods and services, restoring and replacing disrupted social networks, and signaling that community rebound is likely and, in fact, underway. They argue that creating space for entrepreneurs to act after disasters is essential for promoting recovery and fostering resilient communities.

How We Came Back: Voices from Post-Katrina New Orleans (edited with Nona Martin Storr and Emily Chamlee-Wright), Mercatus Center, 2015. ISBN: 1942951140

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, displacing half a million people and causing more than $100 billion in damage in the Greater New Orleans region. The nation wondered how the people of New Orleans could recover from a disaster of this magnitude, the costliest in American history. Within a few years of Katrina, hundreds of thousands had returned and were rebuilding their homes. How they have come back is, to say the least, something of a puzzle.
A decade later, this book presents 17 oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors from four diverse New Orleans communities. The oral histories explore how these individuals, families, and communities began to rebuild after the devastation. These testimonies show that communities can be surprisingly resilient in the wake of disaster, especially thanks to early and disproportionately large individual efforts.

Why have some communities rebounded quickly while others have lagged behind? Even after accounting for obvious factors, such as degree of damage, median income, and flood insurance, much of the variance remains unexplained. What are the socially embedded resources that communities have drawn on to develop effective recovery strategies? Why, despite the commitment of significant government resources, have many of the official forms of assistance produced disappointing results?
This book explores the answers to these persistent questions, which have dogged social scientists over the past 10 years. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as fitting tribute to the vision, resolve, and industriousness of those who came back.

Culture and Economic Action (edited with Laura E. Grube), Edward Elgar, 2015. ISBN: 978-0857931726.

Culture has been a relatively understudied subject within economics. Economists who have studied it often conceive culture as a form of capital, treating it as a set of tools or a resource that certain groups possess and other groups do not. Austrian economics, in contrast, is a science of human behavior that is primarily concerned with making sense of meaningful human action. Because of this, Austrian economists are particularly well suited to inject cultural considerations into economic analysis.

This edited volume, a collection of both theoretical essays and empirical studies, presents an Austrian economics perspective on the role of culture in economic action. The authors illustrate that culture cannot be separated from economic action, but that it is in fact part of all decision-making.

Culture and Economic Action is an enlightening cross-disciplinary exploration that will appeal to all scholars in the social sciences, from anthropologists to economists.

Contributors include: P.D. Aligica, P.J. Boettke, E. Chamlee-Wright, B. Colon, C.J. Coyne, L.E. Grube, A. John, R. Langrill, D. Lavoie, P.T. Leeson, A. Matei, K.W. O’Donnell, P. Runst, S. Stein, V.H. Storr

Understanding the Culture of Markets, Routledge, 2012. ISBN 978-0415777469.

How does culture impact economic life? Is culture like a ball and chain that actors must lug around as they pursue their material interests? Or, is culture like a tool-kit from which entrepreneurs can draw resources to aid them in their efforts? Or, is being immersed in a culture like wearing a pair of blinders? Or, is culture like wearing a pair of glasses with tinted lenses? Understanding the Culture of Markets explores how culture shapes economic activity and describes how social scientists (especially economists) should incorporate considerations of culture into their analysis.

Although most social scientists recognize that culture shapes economic behavior and outcomes, the majority of economists are not very interested in culture. Understanding the Culture of Markets begins with a discussion of the reasons why economists are reluctant to incorporate culture into economic analysis. It then goes on to describe how culture shapes economic life, and critiques those few efforts by economists to discuss the relationship between culture and markets. Finally, building on the work of Max Weber, it outlines and defends an approach to understanding the culture of markets.

In order to understand real world markets, economists must pay attention to how culture shapes economic activity. If culture does indeed color economic life, economists cannot really avoid culture. Instead, the choice that they face is not whether or not to incorporate culture into their analysis but whether to employ culture implicitly or explicitly. Ignoring culture may be possible but avoiding culture is impossible. Understanding the Culture of Markets will appeal to economists interested in how culture impacts economic life, in addition to economic anthropologists and economic sociologists. It should be useful in graduate and undergraduate courses in all of those fields.

The Political Economy Of Hurricane Katrina And Community Rebound (edited with Emily Chamlee-Wright), Edward Elgar, 2010. ISBN 978- 1-84844-238-2.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina posed an unprecedented set of challenges to formal and informal systems of disaster response and recovery. Informed by the Virginia School of Political Economy, the contributors to this volume critically examine the public policy environment that led to both successes and failures in the post-Katrina disaster response and long-term recovery. Building from this perspective, this volume lends critical insight into the nature of the social coordination problems disasters present, the potential for public policy to play a positive role, and the inherent limitations policymakers face in overcoming the myriad challenges that are a product of catastrophic disaster.

Contributors include: E.M. Agemy, J. Bleckley, E. Chamlee-Wright, D. D’Amico, J. Hall, S. Horwitz, A. Kashdan, L. Krasnozhon, P.T. Leeson, A. Martin, E. Norcross, D. Rothschild, P. Runst, E. Schaeffer, D. Skarbek, A. Skriba, R.S. Sobel, V.H. Storr

Enterprising Slaves & Master Pirates: Understanding Economic Life in the Bahamas, Peter Lang, 2004. ISBN 0-8204-7075-9.

Enterprising Slaves & Master Pirates is an interdisciplinary account of economic life in the Bahamas. The Bahamas’ economic story is an interesting tale, full of vibrant color—a story of short-lived booms followed by protracted busts, where discussions of economic success force us to mention fanciful figures such as the pirates Blackbeard and Calico Jack, and where accounts of economic woe, such as the collapse of the cotton market, are punctuated by descriptions of the clamor of Sunday markets or the unique practice of selfhire.

Since the almost simultaneous settling of the Bahamas by pirates and Puritan farmers in the 17th century, two ideal typical entrepreneurs have dominated the region’s economic life: the enterprising slave (encouraging Bahamian businessmen to work hard, to be creative and to be productive) and the master pirate (demonstrating how success is more easily attained through cunning and deception). In addition to Caribbean Studies scholars, this book will appeal to students of culture interested in economic development, and economists interested in how culture impacts development efforts.