The Austrian Economics Conference, which we have organized with Fundacion Bases for many years, took place in Vienna, Austria, for the first time from November 12 to 14. Over 300 guests from five continents attended the conference and the success of the event gives hope that Austrian Economics could truly experience a great revival in Europe, and in Austrian in particular, in the future.
The great highlight of the conference, however, took place on the final evening in the form of our annual Hayek Lifetime Achievement Awarding Gala. In the beautiful rooms of the Palais Liechtenstein, hundreds of our guests assembled to celebrate two outstanding personalities: Thomas E. Woods and Richard J Stephenson. Besides the Hayek Institut and the Austrian Economics Center, Mezzanine Management, AXA Investment Managers, SOBI – Swedish Orphan Biovitrum, and the European Economic Senate took the role of hosts with support of Sparkasse Verband Österreich, St. Stephan Capital Partners and LGT Bank Österreich.
The evening started with celebrating Tom Woods. The host of The Tom Woods Show, Senior Fellow of the U.S.-based Mises Institute and author of twelve books received the Hayek Award in particular for his New York Times bestseller Meltdown, in which he cogently analyzed the financial crisis of 2008 from an Austrian perspective. In his speech, Woods argued that the Austrian School of Economics is as relevant as ever and that its teachings can provide as many solutions for today’s problems.
This was followed by honoring students from the Alpen-Adria high school who actively engaged with our project Next Generation by having discussed public debt, the pension system, taxes, and the relationship between pharmaceutical research and cost reductions in the pension system in the previous school year. As part of this, Michael Jäger from the Taxpayer’s Alliance of Europe and the students representing their school mates discussed this issue.
The importance of education also stood out in the speech of our second Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. After an inspiring laudatory speech of Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, Richard Stephenson accepted the Award. The philanthropist and founder and chairman of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America talked about his decades-long experiences in the freedom movement, and about the crucial play entrepreneurship and innovation play in society, especially so in medicine.
While the Hayek Awardees received a Swarovski Rising Stars from members of the board of the Hayek Institute Georg Vetter and Andreas Unterberger, the students were provided with a check that will cover investments to the media laboratory at the Alpen-Adria School.
As Terry Anker, a member of the Friends of the Austrian Economics Center, noted afterwards, Stephenson’s “leadership of a remarkable revolution in healthcare, attentive generosity, and inspirational spirit as an entrepreneur stands as a brilliant reminder of the immutable truth of free-market innovation and thoughtful compassion.”
Woods and Stephenson join a prominent list of award winners, including last year’s laureates, Richard Rahn and Gloria Álvarez. Through their achievements, Woods and Stephenson, as well as the students from an Austrian high school, showed at this year’s Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award Gala how freedom and markets are worth fighting for.
The AEC’s fundamental goal is to promote a free, responsible and prosperous society. Through education and improving public understanding of key economic questions, the AEC promotes the idea of a free market economy and the ideal of a free society.