This is one of the most important economics books ever written. The insights are everywhere and it rarely leaves my side. If you've not read this book you quite simply do not understand the 1930s, along with quite a bit else. Economics and the Public Welfare is essential.
Mr. Anderson tels it from his own perspective as he lived it. Be sure to have a highlighter handy,as this is one book you will not want to lose. The smartest man I ever knew[my dad] always said you CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT. There are so many truisms in this book that it should be required reading, however most of congress including obummer could NOT get through it, much less understand it.
Mr. Anderson's history of the period of 1914 to 1946 contains his personal experience in the finachal markets. He was an active prticipant in making the history of the period in question. He takes the reader through the period with short chaperts that thourghly cover not just what happened but the reason things happened as they did. His many speaches and congresional testimoney are proof that he saw the disaster(s) comming and did his best to warn people. The only critisism I can offer is rather weak. The book needs a glossery. I am not a economist so I had to backfill my knowledge as I read. I don't beleive history repets itself but many of the mistakes Mr. Anderson points out in his text are still being made. Will we have the same results? Time will tell.
This book is primarily a financial history of the years 1913-46, although, as the title suggests, it covers a wider range. Several chapters are devoted to foreign financial developments and to political changes that affected financial conditions. From 1920 to 1939 the author was economist for the Chase National Bank in New York and wrote the often brilliant Economic Bulletin's published by that bank. He has drawn extensively on them in writing this book. As a Chase Bank officer he had a "front seat" at numerous events of national and international moment and he knew personally many political and financial leaders. The book thus has an autobiographical and journalistic tone too.
Anderson had definite cogent positions on the causes of various crises, on the validity of certain economic theories, and on the reasons for some of the world's ills. He backs these vigorously with logic, history, personal anecdotes, and statistics. For example, he says that the New Deal really commenced about 1924 (p. 115) when open market operations were used to create credit and help several European nations return to a gold standard. This was the first significant resistance to forces that might bring the economy towards an economic equilibrium (pp. 220- 21). Such resistance, Anderson contends repeatedly, is the cause of many of economic ills. The 1924 and 1927 open market buying operations created large bank reserves and set in motion the speculative forces culminating in the 1929 debacle (pp. 128, 136). Incidentally, one of the leading causes of trusts, he says, is easy credit and boom conditions which make combinations more desirable and easier to achieve. Two great booms coincided with chief periods of trust formation: 1898-1903 and 1927-29 (pp. 497, 503). Any chances of early recovery from the 1929 panic were dashed by the enactment in 1930 of the Smoot-Hawley tariff (pp. 224, 270). The strict rules governing margins and short sales in the 1930's made the stock market dangerously thin at times; the greatest single decline took place under the New Deal in 1937, not in 1929 (pp. 438, 454-55). Our modern low interest rate pattern was the result of excess reserves of the early 1930's (p. 412), and was preserved by still greater excess reserves; it was not caused by the implementation of Keynesian theories. The panic of 1937 was caused by large-scale strikes leading to wage and price increases which businessmen interpreted as likely to reduce profits (pp. 444-46). American unit banking is not inferior to branch banking (Chap. 44).
The book bristles with provocative challenges and interpretations, always well supported. Beneath them all there runs the thesis of equilibrium economics (pp. 59, 301, 407 n.). The New Deal, Anderson cites figures to show, failed to solve the unemployment problem and slowed down capital growth. He concludes that such government planning "robbed us of production we might have had and the consumption which we might have enjoyed had we had the old flexible, unregulated economy" (p. 494).
As for Keynesian economics, he makes no concessions to it, and says that it offers no help (p. 407). Repeatedly he criticizes the "oversaving" thesis (pp. 382, 385-87). He devotes an entire chapter to showing that Keynesian economists achieve plausible theories only by altering the meaning of their terms whenever they run into a logical impasse (Chap. 60). It is one of the more effective criticisms of Keynesian economics in print.
The book is one whose stature should be much more well known. It is one of the most effective critiques of the theories back of modern governmental economic policies. It should be required reading for all who advocate more planning.
This book was originally written in 1949. That's an important fact to consider when reading it. This makes Mr. Anderson the first historian to publicly state the fact that Hoover authored the New Deal.
This is a very trenchant examination of the economics of the period between the start of WWI and the end of WWII, and that includes the Roaring 20s and the Depressed 30s. Since this is a book of economics, it was ignored by historians. Shame, since they're the ones perpetuating the myth that Hoover and FDR were of opposite kinds when the truth is they were merely different by a matter of degree.
This book details the true economic situation during that time, but it was the sections on Hoover that really caught my eye, all the massive public works programs and cartelization of the economy that show that the myths are wrong.