From page 182:
It is true that these programs are often recommended by reference to divine institutions, to the eternal laws of the universe, to the natural order, to the inevitable trend of historical evolution, and to other objects of transcendent knowledge. But such statements are merely incidental adornment.
From page 193 (and one of my favorite quotes thus far):
In calling a rise in the masses’ standard of living progress and improvement, economists do not espouse a mean materialism. They simply establish the fact that people are motivated by the urge to improve the material conditions of their existence. They judge policies from the point of view of the aims men want to attain. He who disdains the fall in infant mortality and the gradual disappearance of famines and plagues may cast the first stone upon the materialism of the economists. (emphasis added)
From page 202:
A serious blunder that owes its origin and its tenacity to a misinterpretation of this imaginary construction was the assumption that the medium of exchange is a neutral factor only. According to this opinion the only difference between direct and indirect exchange was that only in the latter was a medium of exchange used. The interpolation of money into the transaction, it was asserted, did not affect the main features of the business. One did not ignore the fact that in the course of history tremendous alterations in the purchasing power of money have occurred and that these fluctuations often convulsed the whole system of exchange. But it was believed that such events were exceptional facts caused by inappropriate policies. Only “bad” money, it was said, can bring about such disarrangements. In addition people misunderstood the causes and effects of these disturbances. They tacitly assumed that changes in purchasing power occur with regard to all goods and services at the same time and to the same extent. This is, of course, what the fable of money’s neutrality implies. The whole theory of catallactics, it was held, can be elaborated under the assumption that there is direct exchange only. If this is once achieved, the only thing to be added is the “simple” insertion of money terms into the complex of theorems concerning direct exchange. However, this final completion of the catallactic system was considered of minor importance only. It was not believed that it could alter anything essential in the structure of economic teachings. The main task of economics was conceived as the study of direct exchange. What remained to be done besides this was at best only a scrutiny of the problems of “bad” money.I really like how Mises sets this up. In my opinion, the Austrian Business Cycle Theory is one of the strongest contributions made by Austrian scholars. Here, Mises explains why what the Austrians find so obvious has been largely overlooked by economists. I wonder if this is a bit of a straw man, however. Mises, writing in 1949, knows that money matters to a whole host of economists. In the traditional Keynesian framework, for example, monetary policy has a real effect on the economy. Of course, it might be fair to read Mises as saying money has been overlooked for so long and only recently--as in the last few decades--have economists started to question the real effects of money.
Maybe the more important question, though, is whether economists TODAY believe money matters. Money certainly mattered in the original Lucas Island model, where individuals (dubbed island dwellers) only observe nominal changes. However, Lucas eventually rejected this idea when rational expectations were incorporated. Similarly, money matters for New Keynesians who point to menu costs. I am sure we will talk more about the ABCT in the future. My question for now is this: If a random sample of economists were surveyed, what percent would say that money is neutral?