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Lessons from the Great Depression (Lionel Robbins Lectures) Paperback – October 8, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: Lionel Robbins Lectures
  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (October 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262700441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262700443
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Peter Temin's lucid discussion rescues the history of the great world economic crisis from the fatalistic conservatism that has become so fashionable in recent years. The analysis is instructive both for those with little formal training in economics and for those with a sophisticated grasp of theory." Charles Maier , Harvard University

About the Author

Peter Temin is Elisha Gray II Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT and the author of Lessons from the Great Depression (MIT Press) and other books. Temin and Vines are coauthors of The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It.

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By M. Mcfarland on June 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Temin's account of the Great Depression differs in almost every from the standard texts. Austrian business cycles, monetary tightness etc. are all passed over as the author goes for the big picture....the long view of political history in Europe.
The Great Depression was the direct result, he says, of the breakdown of peace in the first decade of the twentieth century. The international spirit of co-operation that had existed throughout most of the second half of the 19th century evaporated with the European struggles for empire. So when crisis loomed in the late 1920s all the lifeboats were full of holes. Franco-German rivallry, the demise of the British Empire and isolationism in the United States all produced paralysis when leadership was needed most.
When leadership finally did arrive, it came in the form of social democracy and labour market rigidities which put a floor under the markets but extended the depression in ways not dissimilar to Japan in the 1990s.
If you like your economics filled with Keynes and history this is for you. If Friedman or Schumpeter is more to your taste, then this is worth reading just to see what the other side thinks.
Great stuff.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
In the middle of today's panic economics with a new massive depression lurking at the corner, we should read again the works of Peter Temin, the eminent specialist of the cataclysmic Great Depression of the 1930s in the Western World.

Initial shock
Building on his previous book (Did monetary forces cause the Great Depression?) where he brilliantly attacked Milton Friedman's analysis, he presents in these `Lionel Robbins Lectures' his overall view of the catastrophic event: the initial shock, the causes of the depression and the (too) late recovery.
What changed fundamentally the Western world politically and economically was the First World War. It changed completely existing demographics, agricultural and industrial production and capital movements.

Gold standard
But, after the war, political leaders returned to the `gold standard' ideology to resolve international commercial and financial problems. This regime imposed fixed values of national currencies in terms of gold. Balance of payments deficits had to be adjusted by deflation (a change in the domestic price level), not by devaluations (a change in the exchange rate).
When in 1929 a severe economic downturn arrived, the wrong medicine was administered: deflation and contractionary monetary policies (tight credit) which accentuated the downturn and, in fact, discouraged economic activity. The outcome was a massive Depression.

Recovery
The decline was halted by clairvoyant political leaders and economists who understood that governmental intervention (like public works) and easy credit were needed as countercyclical measures.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Peter Temin rigorously explains the economics of the Great Depression and the lessons to be learned from the economics of the Great Depression. He explains convincingly that the gold standard and subsequent contraction of the money supply were largely to blame for the Great Depression. An economic downturn + sharp contraction of the money supply (due to the design of the gold standard) = economic disaster. This book is for economists or general readers with a strong interest in the period. Peter Temin established himself as one of the greatest economists of the Great Depression. Read his other economics books about the Great depression.

By the way, the countries that left the gold standard quickly, such as Great Britain, recovered the soonest from the Great Depression. The countries that stayed on the gold standard longest recovered the latest. The countries that were not on the gold standard in the first place avoided the Great Depression! FDR departed from Republican policy and removed US from the constrictive gold standard and then pursued a policy of reinflation, and recovery ensued.

Read Essays on the Great Depression by Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a scholar of the Great Depression.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Vivaldi Guy on November 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maybe this book is written for professional economists. If so, I doubt if it contains anything they don't already know. From a layman's point of view I find the book to be dull , pedantic ,and poorly wriiten . For instance this sentence, picked by opening the book to a random page, "The Credit Ansalt had unwisely operated during the 1920s as if the Hapsburg empire had not broken up."
The author seems more intent on promoting his own views of the Depression and the advantages of socialism than in presenting a balanced view of an event that was due to many factors, most of which could be interpreted in several ways. Maybe I just expected too much but I was annoyed by his constant references to equilibrium , an idea that doesn't fit with the real world that is in a constant state of flux.
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