New Book on the Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance
Nathan Marcus, Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the National Research University in St. Petersburg (Russia) and former Visiting Fellow at the Institute for European Global Studies, has published a new book entitled «Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance, 1921-1931».
In 1921 Austria became the first interwar European country to experience hyperinflation. The League of Nations, among other actors, stepped in to help reconstruct the economy, but a decade later Austria’s largest bank, Credit-Anstalt, collapsed. Historians have correlated these events with the banking and currency crisis that destabilized interwar Europe – a narrative that relies on the claim that Austria and the global monetary system were the victims of financial interlopers. In this corrective history, Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the destructive role of external players in Austria’s reconstruction and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on the nation’s financial and political decline.
Consulting sources ranging from diplomatic dossiers to bank statements and financial analyses, Marcus shows how the League of Nations’ efforts to curb Austrian hyperinflation in 1922 were politically constrained. The League left Austria in 1926 but foreign interests intervened in 1931 to contain the fallout from the Credit-Anstalt collapse. Not until later, when problems in the German and British economies became acute, did Austrians and speculators exploit the country’s currency and compromise its value. Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s – and the world’s – economic implosion on financial colonialism, Marcus’s research offers a more accurate appraisal of early multilateral financial supervision and intervention.
Illuminating new facets of the interwar political economy, Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance reckons with the true consequences of international involvement in the Austrian economy during a key decade of renewal and crisis.
Nathan Marcus is Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In his research, he is particularly interested in the economic and financial history of Modern Europe, with a special focus on Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
From February to April 2014, Nathan Marcus was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for European Global Studies in Basel. During that time, he explored the social and financial history of Austrian and German currency reforms. The findings of this research stay have informed Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance.
Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance, 1921-1931 was published by Harvard University Press in April 2018.