In the summer of 1969 Percy Graves, a close friend and student of Professor Ludwig von Mises, gave a series of 7 lectures in Buenos Aires to overflow crowds at the Centro de Estudios sobre la Libertad on the dollar crisis. One of those lecutures dealt with the specifics of the 1929 Depression in some detail. Apparently there were Argentinians concerned enough about that crisis that they were willing to invest 7 nights of the life so as not to repeat that economic calamity in their country.
Would that Americans were so inclined.
The great irony is that if one changed 1929 to 2009 and added 80 years to the other dates, Professor Graves could have given the same lecture today word for word and been right on the mark. The only difference at this point is that we don't yet have the diaries and papers of the key players of the 2009 crisis.
The biggest and most dangerous misunderstanding regarding both of these economic crises is that they somehow represent a failure of the free market instead of the failure of government management of the economy.
Mises was once asked by a graduate student at his University of New York seminar what he thought the government should do during a depression. Mises replied in his quiet manner by presenting his free market position in a few well chosen words. Aghast, the student replied, " You mean the government should do nothing?"
Mises leaned back as he frequently did and said, " Yes, but I mean the government should start doing nothing much sooner."
You can download a complete transcript of this lecture here.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Understanding the Dollar Crisis
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