Austrian School of economic thought gaining influence as nations tackle debt

Who are these people? These men and women, separated by geographies, living disparate lives and practising different professions, have been sharing mails, exchanging notes, meeting whenever they can afford to and trying to put across their point to whoever cares to listen to them. Among other things, all of them are sold on the principles of small government, small taxes and free market. 2012 was a year when they made up jokes and sharpened jibes at bankrupt governments of rich countries as they tried to wriggle out of the mess by promising to print more and more money.

"We are the oldest school of thought and we are still the smallest but we are clearly the fastest-growing school," says Prof Mark Thornton, an American economist of the Austrian School.

The school, which originated in fifteenth century Europe, believes that every individual plays a role in shaping a society and the economy is driven by entrepreneurial spirit, not by bloated, debt-ridden governments doling out subsidy cheques.