The Causes of the Economic Crisis (1931)

From an address by Ludwig von Mises in 1931, published in The Causes of the Economic Crisis and Other Essays Before and After the Great Depression (PDF) (emphasis mine):

According to the circulation credit theory (monetary theory of the trade cycle), cyclical changes in business conditions stem from attempts to reduce artificially the interest rates on loans through measures of banking policy—expansion of bank credit by the issue or creation of additional fiduciary media (that is banknotes and/or checking deposits not covered 100 percent by gold). On a market, which is not disturbed by the interference of such an “inflationist” banking policy, interest rates develop at which the means are available to carry out all the plans and enterprises that are initiated. Such unhampered market interest rates are known as “natural” or “static” interest rates. If these interest rates were adhered to, then economic development would proceed without interruption—except for the influence of natural cataclysms or political acts such as war, revolution, and the like. The fact that economic development follows a wavy pattern must be attributed to the intervention of the banks through their interest rate policy.

The point of view prevails generally among politicians, business people, the press and public opinion that reducing the interest rates below those developed by market conditions is a worthy goal for economic policy, and that the simplest way to reach this goal is through expanding bank credit. Under the influence of this view, the attempt is undertaken, again and again, to spark an economic upswing through granting additional loans. At first, to be sure, the result of such credit expansion comes up to expectations. Business is revived. An upswing develops. However, the stimulating effect emanating from the credit expansion cannot continue forever. Sooner or later, a business boom created in this way must collapse.

The book repays close study, especially the section which explains the way out:

All attempts to emerge from the crisis by new interventionist measures are completely misguided. There is only one way out of the crisis: Forgo every attempt to prevent the impact of market prices on production. Give up the pursuit of policies which seekto establish interest rates, wage rates and commodity prices different from those the market indicates. This may contradict the prevailing view. It certainly is not popular. Today all governments and political parties have full confidence in interventionism and it is not likely that they will abandon their program. However, it is perhaps not too optimistic to assume that those governments and parties whose policies have led to this crisis will some day disappear from the stage and make way for men whose economic program leads, not to destruction and chaos, but to economic development and progress.

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Comments & Responses

One Response so far.

  1. Austrian economics Mises, Hayek are no help, come to think about it any system that still has USURY or INTEREST %%%%% as part of it will also FAIL us as never in history have any precious metal monetary standards either sustained industrial production requiring greater circulations; nor is it possible for them to arrest multiplication of indebtedness by interest.

    The only currency which we should be considering is mathematically perfected currency‚ As there is one and one only solution to inflation and deflation; to systemic manipulation of the cost or value of money or property; and to inherent, irreversible (and therefore terminal) multiplication of artificial indebtedness by interest… thus it is only by eradicating altogether the latter costs; manipulation of the cost or value of money or property; and inflation or deflation… that is it possible to replicate barter in the form of a truly immutable currency.