In the world before and after the Great Depression, there was a lone voice for sanity and freedom: Ludwig von Mises. He speaks in The Causes of the Economic Crisis, a collection of newly published essays by Mises that have been very hard to come by.
Here we have the evidence that the master economist foresaw and warned against the breakdown of the German mark, as well as the market crash of 1929 and the depression that followed.
He presents his business-cycle theory in its most elaborate form, applies it to the prevailing conditions, and discusses the policies that governments undertake that make recessions worse. He recommends a path for monetary reform that would eliminate business cycles and provide the basis for a sustainable prosperity.
Did the world listen? The German-speaking world knew his essays well, and he was considered a prophet, until the Nazis came to power and wiped out his legacy. In England, his student F.A. Hayek made the Austrian theory a presence in academic life.
In the popular mind, the media, and politics, however, it was Keynes who held sway, with his claim that depressions are the fault of the market, and that they can only be solved through government planning.
Just at the time he wanted to be fighting, Mises had to leave Austria, forced out by political events and the rising of the Nazis. He wrote from Geneva, his writings accessible to too few people. They were never translated into English until after his death. Even then, they were not circulated widely.
The sad result is that Mises is not given the credit he deserves for having warned about the coming depression — and having seen the solution. His writings were prolific and profound, but they were swallowed up in the rise of the total state and total war.
But today we hear him speak again in this book.