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07.12.2020
Obituary: Prof. Antal Fekete
Author: Rahim Taghizadegan

Fekete saw the huge contradiction in his advocacy of Adam Smith's so-called "Real Bills Doctrine", which views gold-backed bills as a legitimate form of monetary expansion as they are in line with the market and self-adjusting. Those who interpret the theory of money more strictly, such as Mises' most prominent American student Murray N. Rothbard, saw here a gateway to the arbitrary creation of money. Can these discount banks be trusted? Would they in turn engage in political lobbying with any seigniorage profits and thus gradually - as a protected cartel - push through the increasingly generous creation of money? Can only the strictest money supply restrictions, which do not allow lending beyond the sum of deposits, avoid these incentives for the creeping dispossession of the population? Neither Fekete nor Rothbard can conclusively answer this type of question. But we should be grateful to thinkers of this calibre that they did not shy away from clarity of speech, did not seek false harmony, but arguably stood up for the pursuit of the true and good.

In personal contact, Antal E. Fekete was a touchingly charming and generous person whose spirit was unusually sharp right up to a very old age. The spirit of old Europe radiated from his whole personality. Towards the end of his life, he became darker and darker, just as Carl Menger once did. The last handwritten note of his that I saw sent icy shivers down my spine. In a few words, he outlined the consequences of the looming debt collapse. It is better to keep quiet about them so as not to set a self-fulfilling prophecy in motion.
He experienced the craziness of the last century at first hand, which shrouded his being with a characteristic melancholy. I hope it is just the Hungarian in him, that echo of a cruel and paradoxical history of the most melancholic nation in Europe. But perhaps Fekete was a sensitive person like Roland Baader. At least it is encouraging that Fekete was looking for solutions, for alternatives for new institutions, for when the existing ones fall apart amid great disappointment.

Rahim Taghizadegan
Rector Scholarium, Vienna

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