Mark Pennington's Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy
I started to use the term "robust political economy" to describe my synthesis of the Austrian school analysis of market process analysis and the knowledge/calculation problem, and the Public choice analysis of the political process and the problem of opportunism/rent-seeking sometime in the 1980s. It is evident both in my The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years (1990) and Why Perestroika Failed: The Politics and Economics of Socialist Transformation (1993). But I made a very explicit effort to push this as agenda in economics and political economy in a review of Joseph Stiglitz's Whither Socialism? that was published in the Journal of Economic Literature, I developed the idea in my introduction to my 3 volume reference work entitled "Which Enlightenment, Whose Liberalism", and Pete Leeson and I wrote an article on the concept of robust political economy that develops the argument probably the fullest in my writings. The core of the idea in Austrian economics can be found, I would argue, in Human Action, p. 692.
I should point out that my colleague David Levy has also stressed the issue of "robustness" in political economy, and as far as I know it was from David that I very well might have first heard of the idea when I was a graduate student listening to David talk about ideal estimators and robust estimators and perhaps catching only 20% of what he argued in real time, but eventually coming to appreciate his perspective as the years following graduate school passed.
I have talked about this idea at various FEE and IHS seminars since the early 1990s. I was told by Mark Pennington, that it was hearing one of those lectures at IHS that the idea of writing a book on the future of public policy that took the robustness idea seriously and used to analyze the major critiques of the market economy. So as an editor of the book series, New Thinking in Political Economy I was thrilled when Mark submitted his manuscript to me for publication, and even more thrilled when Edward Elgar agreed to publish the book simultaneously in paperback so that the work would be more affordable than the more traditional hardback editions.
Mark's book, Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy has now been published, and Mark is on the lecture circuit summarizing his work. IEA had a book launch for Mark last month, and now the CATO Institute will have a book talk on Tuesday at 4:00pm.