Friedrich August Von Hayek (1899-1992) was a Nobel Prize winning economist and one of the most prominent members of the Austrian School of Economics, a libertarian economic theory. Hayek emphasized our limited knowledge of the markets (and other subjects), and thus our need for the price mechanism to communicate essential information about supply and demand. His theories are that no centralized planner or government can manage the economy and that the free market is the most efficient known allocator of resources.
Hayek was born in Vienna (Austria), which was then the capital of Austria-Hungary. As a teenager he studied biology, philosophy and ethics, before joining the Austrian Army aged 18 and becoming one of the pioneers of airborne artillery observation during World War I. After the war he earned doctorates in law and political science. He moved to London in 1931 to be a professor at the London School of Economics. When Austria became part of Nazi Germany following the 1938 Anschluss Hayek refused to return there, and became a British subject.
His most famous popular book is The Road To Serfdom (1944). Where in he discusses the collapse of essential freedoms in the face of economic manipulation at the hands of well meaning government actors. His most influential work among economists however is his 1935 academic papers "The Nature and History of the Problem" and "The Present State of the Debate," on the total inability of socialism to coordinate and allocate resources due to their lack of price signals, an effect that lead to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of these ideas were developed in conjunction with his friend and mentor Ludwig von Mises.
Hayek has been compared to the philosopher David Hume with respect to his insistence that we should be "sensible of our ignorance."
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- Econ Talk, Russ Roberts and Bruce Caldwell 10 January, 2011