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The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Advancing Austrian Economics, Liberty, and Peace

Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School

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While the problem of 1929 has long been of interest to myself as well as most Americans, my attention was first specifically drawn to a study of the Great Depression when Mr. Leonard E. Read, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, asked me, some years ago, to prepare a brief paper on the subject. I am very grateful to Mr. Read for being, in this way, the sparkplug for the present book. Having written the article, I allowed the subject to remain dormant for several years, amid the press of other work. At that point, on the warm encouragement of Mr. Richard C. Cornuelle, now of the Foundation for Voluntary Welfare, I proceeded on the task of expansion to the present work, an expansion so far-reaching as to leave few traces of the original sketch. I owe a particular debt to the Earhart Foundation, without whose aid this study could never have been written.

My supreme debt is to Professor Ludwig von Mises, whose monumental theory of business cycles I have used to explain the causes of the otherwise mysterious 1929 depression. Of all Professor Mises's notable contributions to economic science, his business cycle theory is certainly one of the most significant. It is no exaggeration to say that any study of business cycles not based upon his theoretical foundation is bound to be a fruitless undertaking.

The responsibility for this work, of course, is entirely my own.