Title

The New Deal and Modern Memory

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Southern Economic Journal

Volume

77

Issue

3

Publication Date

2011

First Page

515

Last Page

542

Abstract

The “Great Recession,” which began at year‐end 2007, was precipitated by plunging real estate values, followed by borrower defaults and financial crisis for the public and private institutions that supplied loanable funds to the mortgage market. With economic growth not yet returned to trend, three years on more than 9% of the American labor force remains unemployed. Current macroeconomic events, perhaps inevitably, have been compared to those of the Great Depression of 1929–1933, both in terms of severity and of the efficacy of the public policies adopted ostensibly to restore prosperity. In this article, I review the literature on the New Deal, paying particular attention to modern scholarship emphasizing the role of presidential politics and antibusiness political rhetoric in deepening and prolonging the Great Depression. The parallels between then and now suggest that the two economic contractions had similar causes and elicited equally counterproductive policy responses.

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