This paper analyses the critique of Ioannes Soutsos (1804–1890), the first academic economist of modern Greece, toward priorities, weaknesses and shortcomings of Greek economic policy of the 19th century. Emphasis is laid in his interventions in 1843 (when the first constitution was introduced), in 1863 (when a new king was appointed as head of the country) and in 1876-9 (when foreign lending was resumed after a long financial embargo against Greece). These interventions reveal a liberal economist who was a precursor in what is today known as constitutional economics, who stressed the role of efficient institutions for the promotion of economic development and favored sound public finance as a basis for a strong currency and a prerequisite of growth.
The paper puts Soutsos' economic policy recommendations against his theoretical formation as an economist, and examines his views on methodology and the influences Pellegino Rossi and Jean-Baptiste Say exerted in his thought and writings. In this context European economic liberalism of the 19th century is revisited and the question about its relevance for the new-born states of South-Eastern Europe, where nationalism was a major ideological current, requiring a financially strong state, is examined.