What Next in Europe?

by Frank A. Vanderlip. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. 1922. 12mo, viii+308 pp.
‘THE economics of Europe is not a subject to be left to technical financial experts. It is something that every intelligent person in the world should attempt to understand in its broad effects and its consequences to humanity.’ To help toward such an understanding is Mr. Vanderlip’s laudable purpose. A general economic collapse in Western Europe is possible, perhaps even imminent. The ancient and lovely fabric of European civilization is endangered. If help is to be directed wisely there must be a better understanding of Europe’s problems. Such is Mr. Vanderlip’s general thesis. It is set forth with deep conviction. But despite his earnestness, perhaps because of it, Mr. Yanderlip is careless of his details. Too often he neglects to check his impressions by easily available facts.
An ‘economic collapse’ may mean any one of a good many different things — all bad, but some infinitely worse than others. The outstanding facts in the European economic situation arc unbalanced budgets and inflated currencies. Mr. Vanderlip’s account of these facts, of their unwholesome effects upon the economic life of nations, of the barriers they put in the way of international trade, islucid and instructive. What is lacking is any adequate analysis of the really more fundamental facts of work and living. Inflation, monetary collapse, debts, bankruptcy, on the one hand, and industry, unemployment, food-supply, starvation, on the other hand, even though related are different orders of facts. Mr. Vanderlip’s transitions and inferences from one set of facts to the other are too frequently vague and uncertain. And ‘the downfall of European civilization’ would involve yet a different order of facts.
Impressions, after all, rather than reasoned findings are what Mr. vanderlip, with all candor, frankly offers. Four months of travel through fifteen European countries have given his impressions interest and value. But for some reason, one feels that interviewing ‘the responsible men of government, finance, and labor in nearly all the countries of Europe’ is n’t just the way to get at the roots of the European problem.
Mr. Vanderlip, like Mr. Keynes, imputes a major part of the responsibility for Europe’s economic difficulties to the ‘poison treaties of Paris,’ If this allegation is to be kept alive should it not lie supported by analysis and proof? Mr. Vanderlip’s knowledge of the treaties is evidently second-hand. He blames the treaty-makers who cut up the Austro-Hungarian empire for making ‘no arrangement for the division of the motive power and the rolling-stock of the railroads.’ ‘The result,’ he adds, ‘was disastrous.’ If Mr. Vanderlip had looked into the economic sections of the treaties he could not have made that statement. This, it is proper to say, is no more than a fair sample of Mr. Vanderlip’s general carelessness with respect to facts.
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