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The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover - The Great Depression, 1929-1941 Paperback – April 20, 2011
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About the Author
Herbert Hoover: self-made millionaire, dedicated philanthropist, and pioneering humanitarian, he had finished the war as Wilson's appointed head of the American Food Administration. There was just one problem--he couldn't decide whether to run as a Democrat or a Republican. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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On the one hand the book provides an interesting window into the financial storm following the 1929 stock crash. It was interesting to learn that it was the French who created a panic which paralized the German, Austrian and Hungarian banking system in 1931. It makes sense if you read history because the French were threatened by the growing German militarization and continuing British opposition to curtailing it. So calling the funds was probably conceived as one of the only weapons the French had in their arsenal.
On the other hand, there's not much there really. The example above is a notable one. A letter from Hinderburg to Hoover is sort of notable too. And a few more other things. But otherwise there's not much there. Just a narcissistic apologetic rant of the ex president who obviously failed to cement a proper response to the crisis. I generally do not blame him, because nobody would be able to save the country from the perfect financial storm. Not even a superhero.
To give you an idea how derivative this is (from p 51):
"The cooperation of the great employers of the country in upholding wages, and therefore the buying power of the public, the action of the railways, the public utilities, the industries, the Federal Government, the States, the municipalities in undertaking great programs of construction, are greatly mitigating unemployment and giving protection to the workman and stability of business."
Overall it reads more like a piece of political pathos, rather then a historical account of events.
Anyway ive digressed so back to my review. This book is backed by plenty of figures and stories which show that HH was also a Keynesian at heart with his multiple spending programs(which is called stimulus today) designed to fix the economy and get it back on track. And he was a monetarist before they existed with his desire for the Fed as well as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation designed to get money into the economy, as well as prop up farms, banks, etc etc. Hoover wanted no market correction rather, being from the Efficiency School he thought the heavy hand of government could easily help cushion the blow and get things back on track, although he did like to work hand in hand with business thinking teamwork would work well..
So ill mention SOME important points to flick to and highlight,
Pages 31-2 The Fed was given powers in order to a) avoid bank panics b) cushion liquidation c)give aid to agriculture d) mitigate unemployment g) advance economic and social reforms as fast as possible
P41 Liquidation on the NYSE was greater than $8 billion but was reduced to $3 billion
P42 Wired governors and mayors to expand public works, expanded federal public works by an extra $420 mil
P46 in the recession of `21(which tried the do nothing approach and had a recession under 6 months) there was 92 wage cuts per 100 jobs(which should debunk the Keynesian hypothesis of sticky wages), in the full year of `30 there was 7/100(also note the high wage policies etc that HH got industry to agree on seen a greater real wage rise than the boom of the 20s did)
P46 days lost to strike under HH was from 2.7million to 9.9 mil, FDR however seen from 6.7mil to 28.4 mil
P50 the Federal Farm Board was given $500mil to support wheat and cotton prices
P84 The treasury and Fed Reserve created a pool of $500 mil to rescue banks with powers to borrow up to an extra billion
P95 The federal home loan bank act signed 22nd July 1932
P97-100 18 points of federal legislation program
110 Julu 16th `32 $1.8 billion for works, $500 mil for state relief , and authorisation for the Agriculture Production Bank
And trust me I can go on and on. But if you ignore normal government spending, and just look at Hoovers "stimulus" then he spent in his 4 years more than the total of the previous 30 years combined!!!
Please note that in this book Hoover recalls when he was given ADVICE from Andrew Mellon to do nothing and let the market correct itself(pages 30-31), and this is often quoted as if it was the strategy he took. If you've ever read this or come across this please note that this is a quote mine. Cause in the very following paragraphs he mentions about how glad he was to not follow this advice, and how since NO ONE HAD DONE WHAT HE DONE BEFORE he was experimenting in a new field of government interference in the market with the aim to make things better(and he believed given enough time he would have seen his strategies working, and if the democrats hadn't blocked so much of what he tried he'd have been remembered as a hero).
However I can easily explain in a sentence or two why it didn't work. Borrowing and spending money on a bunch of money losing schemes(the "stimulus" public work packages), and propping up prices at a level where no one can afford to buy(like propping up house prices today) both harm the economy, and cause a delay in any recovery!!!
Very interesting and relevant to todays situation.