….I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.
~ Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke
At the Conference to Honor Milton Friedman on his Ninetieth Birthday, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
November 8, 2002
Lars Christensen writes of a 2010 lecture by Scott Sumner did at Oxford Hayek Society on the causes of the Great Depression.
Scott does a great job showing that policy failure – both in the terms of monetary policy and labour market regulation – caused and prolonged the Great Depression. Hence, the Great Depression was not a result of an inherent instability of the capitalist system.
Unfortunately policy makers today seems to have learned little from history and as a result they are repeating many of the mistakes of the 1930s. Luckily we have not seen the same kind of mistakes on the supply side of the economy as in the 1930s, but in terms of monetary policy many policy makers seems to have learned very little.
Click to open video on separate page 1:06:12
Read more at Scott Sumner: “It’s Complicated: The Great Depression in the US” | The Market Monetarist.
Scott Minerd, Chief Investment Officer at Guggenheim Funds, writes:
Though some may be cheered by the relative policy successes this time around, at the current trajectory it will still take almost as long for total employment to fully recover as it did in the 1930s. While job loss was not as severe this time, the recovery in job creation has been much slower. Although nominal and real gross domestic production have returned to new highs on a per capita basis, we are still below 2007 levels. In the same way the Great Depression and the depressions before it lasted eight to 10 years, we will likely continue to see constrained economic growth until 2015-2016 roughly nine years after U.S. home prices began to slide.
Read more at Scott Minerd: The Keynesian Depression | John Mauldin – Outside the Box.
What happened in 1931 to turn a bad economic downturn into the Great Depression? Dramatic events in Europe included failure of Credit-Anstalt, Austria’s biggest bank, in May of 1931. That was followed by bank runs in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, and Germany. As is often the case historically, the financial problems were a combination of a banking crisis….and a currency crisis…..
In 1931, countries faced doubts about whether they would stay on the gold standard, and had a choice of either to abandon gold or else to inflict further domestic economic damage in the form of monetary contraction and price deflation. Those doubts and their damage ended up bouncing across countries like a ping pong ball.
via Econbrowser: Europe in 1931.
The risks ahead are not just of a mild double-dip recession, but of a severe contraction that could turn into Great Depression II, especially if the eurozone crisis becomes disorderly and leads to a global financial meltdown. Wrong-headed policies during the first Great Depression led to trade and currency wars, disorderly debt defaults, deflation, rising income and wealth inequality, poverty, desperation, and social and political instability that eventually led to the rise of authoritarian regimes and World War II. The best way to avoid the risk of repeating such a sequence is bold and aggressive global policy action now.
via How to Prevent a Depression – Nouriel Roubini – Project Syndicate.