This work by Michael Heilperin, a giant in the area of monetary economics, might be one of the most rare – and unique – in the history of 20th century economic thought. It is one of the few books written during the mid-century period of hyper-nationalism that comes to terms with a gigantic puzzle. How did the age of mercantilism become the age of free trade only to revert again in the 20th century? It is an important problem to solve. Heilperin locates the issue as an ideological-political one. Faith in liberty declined at the same time the total state rose. The result was economic nationalism that was destructive to world prosperity and peace.
Heilperin wrote his study while in Geneva in exile with the other Austrians during the war. His thesis and research were undoubtedly guided by the spirit of Mises himself. His thesis draws from the whole history of liberalism to trace the decline of mercantilism and the rise of nationalism in the 20th century. He deals with nationalism in Europe, especially the case of Italy and Germany, but he also puts New Deal economic policy in the same camp.
He writes with a calm erudition, using a huge range of scholarly resources, proving that Heilperin was far more than a monetary theorist. He was one of the giants of the Austrian tradition.
Before this new printing, this book has been virtually impossible to locate and acquire. The Mises Institute waited years for a copy to prepare this edition. It is now available to be appreciated anew by a new generation. His thesis and argument hold up in every way.