November 9, 2020 marks the 13th anniversary of the foundation of the Austrian Economics Center (AEC). The AEC was born with the explicit mission to bring Austrian Economics to Europe and the rest of the world. Free Markets, Free People has been its motto from the very beginning. And in order to achieve its goals, the AEC has become the linchpin of the European freedom movement.
For starters, the AEC is the main organizer of the Free Market Road Show (FMRS). Simply put, the Road Show is the biggest libertarian event of its kind in the world. From its humble origins in 2008, when it visited a handful of Central European cities, the FMRS has grown to become a colossus with more than one hundred international partners that yearly tours 35 to 45 cities in Europe and the Caucasus. Moreover, the FMRS has spanned the globe. Thus, regular Free Market Road Show events take place in Latin America and the United States.
Due to the pandemic of 2020, the forced confinements, and travel bans imposed by governments, the FMRS family reacted quickly and launched a massive series of webinars and online events to discuss the Corona crisis, how governments have reacted to it, and what solutions Austrian Economics and innovation can provide for the difficult times we are going through.
The AEC’s efforts to strengthen the liberty movement do not stop at the Road Show, although they very well could. Since 2008 we have been co-organizers of the European Resource Bank (ERB) meetings. The ERB is the largest annual conference of think tanks in Europe. Mirroring the Resource Bank meetings organized by the Heritage Foundation in the United States and the Liberty Forum organized by the Atlas Network, ERB meetings attempt to build a ‘bank’ of human capital – the ultimate resource in the enterprise of freedom – and to create and renew the ties between the participating organizations.
In 2019, in cooperation with the Latin American partner Fundacion International Bases, the AEC held the 8th International Conference “The Austrian School of Economics in the 21st Century.” The event took place in Vienna and gathered more than 300 scholars, students, investment managers, and think tankers from five continents. Indeed, participants from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and most of Europe came to Vienna to discuss the most compelling issues of the Austrian School. What is more, one of the explicit objectives of the conference was to bring Austrian Economics back to Austria. Approximately a third of the participants were Austrian residents and the announcement that the conference will take place again in Vienna in 2021 all lead to the genuine hope that the Austrian School may very well recover its roots and flourish once more in the place where it had all begun.
Incidentally, the AEC’s sister organization, the Hayek Institut, is a Vienna-based think tank named after Friedrich August von Hayek, an Austrian economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism. Hayek and Gunnar Myrdal were awarded the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their work on the theory of money, monetary fluctuations, and the impact of social and institutional phenomena on the economy. The Hayek Institut is Austria’s first organization dedicated to the study of Hayek’s work.
Data-driven research has always been one of the top priorities of the AEC. Accordingly, we currently run the Rating Europe project. On this platform, Europeans can assess how the budgets of their countries are composed, find out how taxpayers’ money is being spent, how quickly the countries’ debts are growing or test ideas to balance the budget.
Furthermore, this year the book Green Market Revolution was published. With 21 contributors from more than 15 of the biggest free-market organizations in the world, it presents a cutting-edge perspective for environmentalism, showing how a system based on free markets, innovation, property rights, and localized solutions is far more effective at tackling problems than a top-down, one-size-fits-all regulatory approach.
To wrap up, in these first 13 years, the Austrian Economics Center has not only been instrumental for the promotion of the ideas of liberty across the continent and in the rest of the world but it has also forged the biggest and most successful network of think tanks in Europe.
The current COVID-19 crisis and the reconfiguration of the post-pandemic world are experienced by all of us with worry and anxiety. However, we can rest assured that the AEC and its network will be up to the challenge.
Federico N. Fernández is a Senior Fellow at the Austrian Economics Center, the Executive Director of Somos Innovación, and President of the Fundación Internacional Bases.
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.