Peddling Panaceas: Popular Economists in the New Deal Era

Peddling Panaceas: Popular Economists in the New Deal Era

by Gary Dean Best
     
 

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As the Great Depression dragged on without a recovery, Americans were avid for anything that would help them to understand its causes and possible solutions. During this period, orthodox economists were largely discredited, both in the White House and among the public. Three of the most popular and influential figures of the period--Edward A. Rumely, Stuart Chase,

Overview

As the Great Depression dragged on without a recovery, Americans were avid for anything that would help them to understand its causes and possible solutions. During this period, orthodox economists were largely discredited, both in the White House and among the public. Three of the most popular and influential figures of the period--Edward A. Rumely, Stuart Chase, and David Cushman Coyle--were not trained in economics. In Peddling Panaceas, Gary Dean Best analyzes their remedies for the Depression, their proposals for permanent economic reform, and their influence.

Each of these men represented a principal economic faction within the New Deal. The inflationists within the New Deal found support from the Committee for the Nation, which was largely the creation of Edward Rumely. Rumely's committee was influential in the early New Deal, but largely passed into eclipse by early 1934. The planners within the New Deal were represented in popular magazines and books by Stuart Chase, who was an engineer and accountant before he began to expound on economics. An early advocate of collectivism, Chase's influence waned after the Supreme Court invalidated two early successes, the NRA and the AAA. David Cushman Coyle, a structural engineer who, like many engineers during the Depression, fancied himself an economist, may be taken as the voice of the followers of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis within the New Deal. Always influential, they became more prominent after the invalidation of the NRA in 1935.

These three popular economists not only influenced policy but also educated the American public about the Depression. Scarcely a month went by without an essay by Chase or Coyle in the popular magazines of the decade, and both were also prolific authors of books and pamphlets. Their views and influence help us understand the economic and political climate of the 1930s. Peddling Panaceas will be of interest to economists, cultural historians, political scientists, and sociologists.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Few historians know the New Deal period as well as Gary Dean Best and few have written about it so ably. This study of the work of Stuart Chase and David Cushman and of the Committee for the Nation does more than fill a gap that long needed filling. It presents indispensable data on one of the most significant periods in all American history. The style is clear, the research thorough. As such it is valuable not simply to the historian but to all with an interest in public policy. "

– Justus Doenecke, professor of history, University of South Florida

"In Peddling Panaceas, Gary Dean Best shows again why he is the best historian writing on the New Deal today. His book clearly explains the myopic government solutions peddled by Stuart Chase and David Cushman Coyle, neither of whom had economic training and both of whom influenced public policy at the highest levels. Best's book is a must read for New Deal historians."

– Burton Folsom, Jr., Charles F. Kline Chair in History and professor of history, Hillsdale College

"Peddling Panaceas offers a coherent and compelling alternative intellectual history of the New Deal and provides new detail on three important factions of New Deal policymaking."

– Ranjit S. Dighe, Department of Economics, State University of New York at Oswego

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765802880
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
06/09/2005
Pages:
273
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.98(d)

Meet the Author

Gary Dean Best retired after thirty years of teaching history in the University of Hawaii system. He is the author of fifteen books and numerous essays for books and scholarly journals, including Harold Laski and American Liberalism published by Transaction.

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