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An Economic Spurt that Failed: Four Lectures in Austrian History

An Economic Spurt that Failed: Four Lectures in Austrian History

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    An Economic Spurt that Failed: Four Lectures in Austrian History
    Book Description:

    In 1900 the newly appointed Austrian prime minister, Ernest von Koerber, initiated a novel program of economic development designed to solve the political and economic problems of the Habsburg Monarchy. Ambitious and ingenious as the plan was, it proved a failure, and in this book Alexander Gerschenkron assesses its career and significance for both Austrian and European history.

    The author explains the importance of Koerber's experiment as a way of increasing Austria's economic strength while drawing the country out of divisive political struggles. He ascribes its failure primarily to the obstructionist tactics of Eugen von Boehin-Bawerk, the famous economist, who headed the Austrian Ministry of Finance. In describing the experiment's brief but striking success, Professor Gerschenkron challenges the widespread belief among scholars that disintegrating nationalist forces were irresistible.

    Originally published in 1977.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6912-1
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. LECTURE ONE The Road Before, the Moment, and its Hero
    (pp. 3-44)

    These lectures will deal with a brief but significant episode in the history of Austria in the early years of the century. The episode is primarily concerned with economic development, and the attempt will be made to see it in the light of my general approach to the industrial development of Europe. The lectures, therefore, were planned as a study in theeconomichistory of Austria. But economic, political, and social factors were so closely intertwined in the history of the country in general, and especially so during the short period under review, that it did not seem right to...

  2. LECTURE TWO The Economic Backwardness of Austria
    (pp. 45-84)

    In my approach to the industrial development of Europe before the First World War, I used the concept of the degree of economic backwardness as an organizing principle in a typology of great spurts of industrialization and in attempts to understand the different nature of those spurts as they occurred in the individual European countries. I had, therefore, to consider whether “degree of economic backwardness” was an operational concept and came to the conclusion that, while it defied cardinal measurement, it provided all the operationality needed for ordinal measurement, that is to say, the term enabled us to rank the...

  3. LECTURE THREE The Stumbling Block
    (pp. 85-122)

    In this lecture, the hero of the previous two lectures becomes a non-hero, while the role of the anti-hero is played, collectively speaking, by the Austrian Ministry of Finance and, personally speaking, by its head, Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk, the Minister of Finance. Before deciding, in the spring of 1901, to submit the Canal Bill to the Parliament, Koerber had to secure Boehm-Bawerk’s consent to the allocation of the funds needed. Accordingly, as Sieghart quotes from his diary: “At Pentecost, Koerber sent me to Boehm-Bawerk who at that time happened to dwell in Abbazia [on the Adriatic Sea] in order to...

  4. LECTURE FOUR The Retrospect
    (pp. 123-158)

    In the preceding lecture the triste story of the canal project was followed as it unfolded. As happens so often, the actual situation was not clear to the contemporaries involved. The Ministry of Commerce—in duty bound—still regarded the canals as a great promise; the Ministry of Finance—in duty derelict—still viewed the canals as a great danger. In reality the canals were neither the one nor the other. As we must change now from story to history, we become aware of the air of unreality that hovered over the whole matter. It is perhaps a testimony to...

  5. APPENDIX II The Original Text of Boehm-Bawerk’s Secret Draftfor an Amendment of the Canal Act of June 11, 1901.
    (pp. 163-164)