I understand that Austrians in general don't believe in predicting so much as describing, but are there any books that teach how to come up with a basic economic outlook? So many books I've seen are just theory. Are there any applied austrian books? Thanks!
I think you're misunderstanding. There is no crystal ball. As Mises said: "If it were possible to calculate the future structure of the market, the future would not be uncertain."
The Austrian perspective is just a more sound economic theory (i.e. a better explanation) of economic occurances. In this way it provides a clearer understanding of what happens when, and why. And it is through this understanding that overall long term trends can be forecast.
Here's a great interview with Jeff Tucker and Frank Shostak in which the economist talks about how Austrian theory combined with an analysis of money supply make for an excellent forecasting model.
Here are some other links on the subject:
The Precariousness of Forecasting in Human Affairs
The Plight of Business Forecasting
Verstehen and the Role of Economics in Forecasting, or: If You’re so Rich, Why Aren’t You Smart?
The Art of Forecasting: Great Expectations, Small Triumphs
I mean if you're really interested in current investments as an Austrian perspective might encourage, I'd say Peter Schiff is the best guy to listen to. He's got a handful of books on the subject. Next I'd look into Marc Faber and Jim Rogers.
I wouldn't forget Mark Skousen.
He has a handful of books on economics, and also "Investing In One Lesson," which is supposed to be quite good.
He also has a newsletter, as I recall. Something like $100 for a one-year subscription.
Well I've been a professional trader for 15 years so I don't buy the random walk theory (though you don't have to believe in Random walk to believe that Austrian Economics might not be a viable forecasting tool). I'm a contrarian and only see fundamentals as themes to which other traders subscribe or don't.
Anyway, even if it's not used to forecast it is used to describe a situation more accurately. If I see the economic situation more accurately through an Austrian lens than the Keynesians and umm, say, buy gold, then I've used AE to aid my forecasting.
It's applicable within a range of specificity. For example, knowing that the market rate of interest is being altered by monetary policy gives you the general idea that there will be malinvestment. Knowing where there is more or less malinvesment requires an additional assessment beyond "economics".
There is no need for a book amalgamating the two. Just (1) learn economics and (2) do market research.
in that book, skousen doesn't mention commodities in his favorite investment choices...