A Random Walk Down San Fernando by Jack Estill

Jack Estill

Recently, we had a chat with Jack Estill, retired business owner and Lecturer Emeritus at San Jose State University, about the economics of entrepreneurship and Austrian economics.

In the short video below, he shares his interest in Austrian economics.



Below is a short video snippet conversation about the entrepreneur’s role of discovering opportunities.


In the slides and full video, Jack pulls out key insights from 250 years of economic thought:

Jack Estill’s Full talk

Economic thinkers have struggled to explain why some countries are rich and some poor. Early recognition of an important insight is attributed to Adam Smith’s description of the “undertaker” or “promoter” of a project who must be paid a profit to hazard his stock in an adventure. Others have expanded on these early thoughts with more nuanced understandings of the entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial process.

With the advent of more activist economic theories following John Maynard Keynes’ influence, economists have developed other insights into the market (exchange) process. One of those ideas is that economic expectations are rational. Economic agents generally understand their economic framework and rationally adjust their behavior based on past trends. Another is that when information is relatively robust, markets readily aggregate available information and recognize and eliminate price discrepancies quickly. Consequently, market inefficiencies are quickly recognized and arbitraged away. There are no opportunities ($20 bills) left lying on the ground.

But there is a conflict implied by these different economic insights. If markets are generally rational and efficient, how is it possible for entrepreneurs to find profit opportunities and innovate markets? Luckily, there is an answer to this paradox and we can demonstrate it in a way that one can easily grasp.


Slides (pdf)



About John (Jack) Estill

Jack Estill has been active in business for many years, starting his own general engineering contracting company in 1986, as well as completing several development projects. In 1999 he returned to college, receiving his MA in Economics from San Jose State University in 2006. He taught there part-time from 2007 until his retirement in 2020. He specialized in teaching the history of economic thought through classic readings, Austrian economics, and the economics of entrepreneurship. He continues to pursue his research and publishing. In addition, he provides business consulting services to small to medium sized companies focusing on business and product transitions. He is a long-time member of the local workforce board, Work2future, where he concentrates on youth education and training initiatives. He enjoys open track driving with his son, as well as rowing, reading, writing, and fly-fishing.

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