SEPTEMBER 01, 1981 by LUDWIG VON MISES
Under the conditions of the latter nineteenth century it did not matter whether or not a nation was prepared and equipped with the required capital in order to utilize adequately the natural resources in its territory. There was practically free access for everybody to every area’s natural wealth. In searching for the most advantageous opportunities for investment, capitalists and promoters were not stopped by national borderlines. As far as investment was concerned the greater part of the earth’s surface could be considered as integrated into a uniform world-embracing market system. In fact the internationalization of the capital market, together with free trade and the freedom of migration, was instrumental in removing the economic incentives to war and conquest.
The inflow of foreign capital did not harm the receiving nations. It was European capital that accelerated considerably the marvelous economic evolution of the United States and the British Dominions. Thanks to foreign capital the countries of Latin America and Asia are today equipped with facilities for production and transportation which they would have had to forego for a very long time if they had not received this aid. Real wage rates and farm yields are higher today in those areas than they would have been in the absence of foreign capital. The mere fact that almost all nations are vehemently asking today for “foreign aid” explodes the fables of the Marxians and the nationalists.
However, the mere lust for imported capital goods does not resuscitate the international capital market. Investment and lending abroad are only possible if the receiving nations are unconditionally and sincerely committed to the principle of private property and do not plan to expropriate the foreign capitalists at a later date. It was such expropriations that destroyed the international capital market. Intergovernmental loans are no substitute for the functioning of an international capital market.