Pure theory and progressive liberalism: Frank Fetter and the Austrian economists

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Frank A. Fetter is often classified as an American representative of the Austrian school, yet surprisingly, there is practically no published record of his views of the Austrians or theirs of him, and there is no indication that he ever seriously interacted with them after the First World War. However, Fetter enjoyed many personal and professional relationships with the Austrians, and they shared a reciprocal influence on each other's ideas that deeply influenced their respective research programs. This paper draws on unpublished archival records to explore Fetter's unique place in the history of economics, in particular, his positive and negative interactions with the leading individuals and institutions of the Austrian school. Their half-century of influence sheds light on Fetter and his role in American economics, but also brings to light a wide range of information about the lives, works, and personal relations of the Austrians that have not been included in their biographies or institutional histories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-486
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Institutional Economics
Issue number3
Early online date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2018


  • Austrian economics
  • classical liberalism
  • Frank A. Fetter
  • historical and institutional economics
  • progressive liberalism


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