O comparație utilă între criza actuală și sfârșitul boom-ului interbelic în Europa. Autorii studiului arată că magnitudinea influxurilor de capital (credit, mai precis) și a ieșirilor ulterioare este destul de similară în cele două perioade istorice.
În acest context, este util să ne amintim că Marea Depresiune a fost anticipată de cel mai mare economist al vremurilor, Ludwig von Mises. Iar faptul că criza actuală nu a fost prevăzută de nici unul dintre economiștii cu poziții înalte în cele mai mari universități arată doar starea jalnică în care a ajuns știința și educația economică. În anii ’20, Mises nu avea la îndemână bogata istorie statistică pe care o are Eichengreen , nu avea o “Mare Depresiune” în bibliotecă de la care să învețe. Avea în schimb ceva ce foarte rar astăzi: o teorie corectă:
During the 1920s, Mises and Hayek established the Austrian Institute of Economic Research, which monitored and forecast economic conditions in Europe. As early as 1924, Mises was convinced that an economic crisis was coming. Based on his path-breakingTheorie des Geldes book, Mises realized that the easy-credit policies of the central banks would lead to disaster under an international gold standard.
One of his students, Fritz Machlup, recalled Mises’s “gift of prophecy”: “As his assistant in the university seminar which met every Wednesday afternoon, I usually accompanied him home. On these walks we would pass through a passage of the Kreditanstalt in Vienna [one of the largest banks in Europe]. From 1924, every Wednesday afternoon as we walked through the passage for pedestrians he said: ‘That will be a big smash.’ Mind you, this was from 1924 onwards; yet in 1931, when the crash finally came, I still held some shares of the Kreditanstalt, which of course had become completely worthless.”4
In the summer of 1929, Mises was offered a high position at the Kreditanstalt Bank. His future wife, Margit, was ecstatic, but Lu surprised her when he decided against it. “Why not?” she asked. His response shocked her: “A great crash is coming, and I don’t want my name in any way connected with it.” He preferred to write and teach. “If you want a rich man,” he said, “don’t marry me. I am not interested in earning money. I am writing about money, but will never have much of my own.”5
After Wall Street collapsed several months later, world trade suffered and in May 1931, Kreditanstalt went bankrupt. This, more than any other event, extended the depression throughout Europe.
After the depression was in full swing, Mises commented on his prediction in an introduction to the English translation of Money and Credit(written in June 1934):
From 1926 to 1929 the attention of the world was chiefly focused upon the question of American prosperity. As in all previous booms brought about by expansion of credit, it was then believed that the prosperity would last forever, and the warnings of the economists were disregarded. The turn of the tide in 1929 and the subsequent severe economic crisis were not a surprise for [Austrian] economists; they had foreseen them, even if they had not been able to predict the exact date of their occurrence. (sursa)