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An International Conference on “Measuring the Impact of Economic Freedom”

Sir John Templeton and J.R. Clark

Sir John Templeton and J.R. Clark at the Economic Freedom Conference

The Probasco Chair of Free Enterprise at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and The George H. Moor Chair of Economics at Capital University produced a successful international conference on “Measuring the Impact of Economic Freedom.”

The conference, which took place in Nassau, Bahamas, attracted scholars from eight nations, including delegations from Sweden, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, and Guatemala.

Held in conjunction with the annual Association of Private Enterprise Education conference, the two-day mini-conference included sessions that focused on The Concept and Measurement of Economic Freedom, Economic Freedom and Economic Growth, Economic Freedom Indexes, and The Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Other Social Goods.  Featured speaker was Sir John Templeton.


Mont Pélerin Society Conference on “Freedom, Entrepreneurship and Prosperity”

The Mont Pélerin Society convened approximately 200 of the world’s top classical liberal scholars in Chattanooga, to analyze the prospects for “Freedom, Entrepreneurship, and Prosperity” in the 21st Century. The conference theme was based upon the idea that entrepreneurship has been the driving force behind the vast prosperity, which free economies have enjoyed in the 20th Century, and that both political and economic freedom provide the foundation for successful entrepreneurship. Over the four days of the conference, 22 academic papers, relating to the subject, were presented by the cadre of world class authors.

Featured speakers included three Nobel Laureates – James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, and Milton Friedman – as well as the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus. Organized by The Probasco Chair and the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies, the conference attracted distinguished scholars from 24 nations including delegations from Argentina, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Columbia, Chile, the Czech Republic, and Belgium. The Russian delegation included Andrei Illarionov and Peter Ivanovic, President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisors, and the Mexican delegation included Roberto Salinas-León of TV Azteca.  Notable among the American participants were Attorney General Edwin Meese, Social Security Trust Fund Trustee Dr. Thomas Saving, Judge Douglas Ginsburg, and UCLA economist Harold Demsetz. Concurrent with The Mont Pélerin Society conference, were meetings by the Liberty Fund, Inc., the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, The Heritage Foundation, and the Earhart Foundation. 

Highlights of the Conference

Vaclav Klaus

President of the Czech Republic - Vaclav Klaus

The opening address was given by Vaclav Klaus. In his address entitled “Reflections on the Current Situation in Europe,” Klaus discussed the performance of several former communist countries since they entered the post-transformation phase, joined the European Union, and signed the European Union Accession Treaty. He emphasized the major historical events affecting these economies of Eastern Europe and the promises they held for transformation to a new economic era. He also pointed out that the recent visible slowdown of the entire European economy was the result of an expansion of political control, a visible increase in rent-seeking, and the introduction of the single European currency.

James Buchanan spoke Friday morning on “Classical Liberalism as an Organizing Ideal,” tracing out the values and suppositions that seem to be so strongly held by classical liberals but eschewed by their lesser committed intellectual counter parts. Beginning with his own revelation in Frank Knight’s price theory course at the University of Chicago, Buchanan pointed out that most classical liberals, but by no means all, reject the inference that salvation lies with science, that our advocacy roles are essentially redundant. He suggested that the shared enthusiasm for classical liberalism is located in understanding the philosophical implications of the science of economics and their correspondence with the values held by classical liberals. He suggested that “human animals are uniquely capable of organizing themselves within social structures that make liberty, peace, and prosperity simultaneously achievable.”

James Buchanan

Nobel Laureate, James Buchanan

Vernon Smith

Nobel Laureate, Vernon Smith

Milton Friedman

Economist Milton Friedman

Vernon Smith gave the Friday luncheon address on “Freedom, Economic Theory and Experiment.” He began by discussing his research on the generic function of consumer-producer markets. In established commodity markets, producers incur recurrent, relatively predictable costs, and consumers experience corresponding recurrent flows of value from consumption. In laboratory experiments these recurrent flow markets are incredibly efficient. Stock markets, on the other hand, are inherently far more uncertain than markets for commodities and services because stock markets must anticipate innovations—the new commodities and services of the future. At the time of new innovations, the extent of their subsequent economic success is inherently unpredictable. In laboratory stock markets, even where fundamental value is well defined and known, inexperienced subjects produce great price bubbles and crashes. They reach rational expectations equilibrium only through experience.  Using reference to the ancient Inuit “principle of the first harpoon,” Smith traced out the critical role of property rights in both personal exchange and its impersonal counterpart of complex international markets and concluded with illustrations of the highly positive relationship between freedom and prosperity.

J.R. Clark

J.R. Clark

On Sunday, Milton Friedman, via satellite, discussed the difference between the rhetoric and reality of freedom and socialism in the 56 years since the founding of The Mont Pélerin Society.   Implying a dual swinging social pendulum between the two, he pointed out that in the founding years of The Mont Pélerin Society the reality was that most economies were free, but the rhetoric was primarily socialist in nature. Academics and governments alike concentrated on attacking the free market for its inequalities and imperfections, suggesting that more equality and superior outcomes could be produced by greater socialism. After 56 years of tinkering, the vast majority of both academics and politicians today speak the rhetoric of the free market, but the socialist paradigm is far more the practice in the world’s economies.  Friedman summarized by remarking that “There is no question in my mind that we are less free today than we were 50 years ago..I predict that in the next 50 years the importance of government will decline.”

J. R. Clark, Probasco Chair, and Dwight Lee, from the University of Georgia, presented "Freedom, Entrepreneurship & Economic Progress" at the 2003 Mont Pélerin Society conference.

Financial Support for the conference was provided by The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation, the Foundation for the American West, SunTrust Banks, Inc., Chattem, Inc., Astec Industries, Inc., the Aequus Institute, Pierre F. & Enid Goodrich Foundation, the Roe Foundation, Georgina and Edmund Teyrovsky, Owen and Erma Smith, Menlo Smith, Sir John M. Templeton, Brice Holland, Harry Fields, and numerous other individuals.


A National Conference on “Innovative Applications of the Laffer Curve”

Arthur Laffer

Arthur Laffer

Keynote address

The Probasco Chair, The Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies, and numerous economists such as Arthur Laffer, Jack Kemp, Nobel Laureate James Buchanan, and House Majority Leader Richard Armey cooperated to help organize the national conference on "Innovative Applications of the Laffer Curve." Alan Greenspan was the featured speaker and over two-hundred attended; media participants included Bloomberg Business News, Bloomberg Business TV News, Bridges World News, CNN, C-Span, Futures World News, The Independent Financial Writers Association, MS-NBC Video, The New York Times, Reuter's Financial TV, Reuters TV News Agency, Tax Notes Magazine and Asia Times. In the 1980s, Arthur Laffer popularized an analytical concept illustrating that tax revenues could, in some instances, be increased by lowering tax rates. His work was credited with leading the Reagan Revolution and Supply-Side Economics.


National Conference on Teaching Economics

Teaching Economics brochure cover image

Concurrent with the International Conference on "Measuring the Impact of Economic Freedom", the National Conference on Teaching Economics, a joint effort of the Probasco Chair and The Association of Private Enterprise Education, provided teachers with exposure to some of the latest information in specific areas of economics instruction.  Nationally recognized economists and award-winning high school economics teachers presented sessions within their areas of expertise and provided updates on concepts constantly changing within the economics curriculum. Topics included innovative technologies and techniques in economics, environmental economics, property rights, and research in the teaching and learning process. Dr. Mark Schug delivered the keynote paper entitled, “Can Charter Schools Improve Financial and Economic Education? The Case of the Milwaukee Urban League Academy of Business and Economics.”

Teachers participated in academic sessions, featuring papers on topics such as, “Common Economic Principles Illustrated in Ordinary Classroom Activities” by Alan Lockhard, “Teaching Economics Through Economic Mysteries” and “Do the Political Views of High School Students Change When They Study Economics” by Bruce Rottman, “The Internationalization of College Education” by Alina Zapalska, “Student Internet Use; USA and Mauritius” by Subhash Durlabhji, “Do Students Borrow Enough?” by William L. Holahan, “Economics Online Success: Strategic Utilization of Technology” and “Time Flexibility - The Keys to Combatting On-Campus Course Preferences,”  by Tawni Ferrarini.


Prior National and International Conferences

International Conference on Economic Freedom of the World 

The Probasco Chair, the Policy Sciences Division of Florida State University and APEE produced the conference in Dallas, Texas to explore and discuss Prosperity and Freedom. The economic freedom conference showcased twenty-four seminal papers by prominent authors and attracted recognized scholars from all over the world, including personalities such as Roberto Salinas-León of TV Azteca in Mexico and Henri Lepage, director of EURO'92.

“New Perspectives in Economic Education”

Teachers from seven states participated and discussed, "What Should be Taught in the Basic Economics Course?" With over 100 participants, this session explored key concepts, and reported on effective instructional methodologies used by innovative teachers.

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