Arnold Kling  

Shlaes on the New Deal

The Bourgeoisie and the Cleris... Tax-eaters...

Amity Shlaes spoke last evening at the American Enterprise Institute. Her topic, which is also the topic of her forthcoming book, was Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. In her talk, the New Deal comes across less as an economic revolution and more like the application of urban machine politics at the national level.

I look forward to reading any book that delves into the way that people were thinking at the time of the Great Depression and the New Deal. Shlaes promises to do that. She referred to "policy agony," a sort of buyer's remorse among policymakers who found that their cherished ideas did not work as well in practice as in theory. I am curious to find out more.

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CATEGORIES: Economic History

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Matt G writes:

As an avid student of the pre-war depression era I feel it was only right to give my two cents on the idea of whether the New Deal was truly a successful undertaking or not. In my eyes, the New Deal succeeded in one thing, giving hope to the people. Other than that, this wonderful plan that looked bound for success on paper did nothing but create massive amounts of debt for a government and nation already suffering through the largest economic depression ever seen. The war and the war alone brought us out of the Great Depression, as everyone knows that war jumpstarts the modern economy!

TGGP writes:

Matt G, have you read Wartime Prosperity by Robert Higgs? It seems far more sensible than the view that war boosts the economy, which seems hard to distinguish from those who say 9/11 or Hurrican Katrina or a child throwing rocks at windows boosts the economy.

Russell Hanneken writes:

TGPP, I think you meant to link to this article.

I gather much of Robert Higgs' recent book Depression, War, and Cold War is devoted to debunking the myth of wartime prosperity.

jw ogden writes:

While war is never good for improving lives it can reduce unemployment especially if the unemployment was a result of a recuction in money supply. I think that people who say that war is good for the economy look at full unemployment as the only indicator of a good economy.

Fundamentalist writes:

If war could boost the economy, then we could accomplish the same thing by destroying our own ships and airplanes, and bombing our own buildings without the needless loss of life.

TGGP writes:

Thanks Russell. I guess that should teach me not to read econlog and Gene Expression at the same time.

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