Thursday, 4 July 2013

Hayek (1945) on Why Network News Is Losing Control

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In 1945, economist F. A. Hayek wrote what turned out to be a classic paper on how decentralized knowledge is made available to the public by means of the free market.

He argued that most knowledge is decentralized, and the free market allows people who own such knowledge to reap profits from this ownership. There is no way that any government committee can assemble accurate comparable knowledge, and then implement this information, with anything like the efficiency of the free market system. This article is reprinted in Chapter 4 of his 1948 book, Individualism and Economic Order. You can read it on the website of the Mises Institute.

What Hayek wrote about economic information is equally applicable to information in general. Accurate information is held by individuals at the local level. It is highly decentralized. There is no way that any central bureaucracy, or group of bureaucracies, can assemble more than a tiny fraction of this information.

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