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Discussionpaper: “Hayekian Economic Policy”

Lars P. Feld and Daniel Nientiedt:

What is the appropriate role of the state in economic policy-making? This paper shows that Friedrich Hayek, who is often considered a proponent of laissez-faire liberalism, offers three different answers to this problem. First, Hayek argues that the state should provide a legal framework for competitive markets. Second, he proposes to employ the rule of law criteria – generality, equality, and certainty – to distinguish permissible from non-permissible state interventions. Third, he rejects deliberate legislation and moves closer to the Misean idea of a minimal state. The paper considers these answers in light of Hayek’s analysis of the knowledge problem. We suggest that a Hayekian approach to economic policy-making should focus on improving the framework of general rules that guide individual behavior, thereby enabling spontaneous ordering processes and reducing the epistemological burden placed on policy-makers.

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