The Great Depression

The Great Depression


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The Great Depression by Lionel Robbins

This book examines the nature and the causes of the 1929 depression, tracing its background and the broad conditions from which the depression emerged. As an infl uence on economic activity, Robbins sees World War I, and the political changes that followed it, as a series of shifts in the fundamental conditions of demand and supply, to which economic activity had to adapt. Th e needs of the war had called a huge apparatus of mechanical equipment into being, which the resumption of peace rendered in large part superfl uous. The war also disrupted world markets, and its settlement created conditions that aggravated this disruption. Th us, the struggle that was to end nationalist friction in fact gave nationalism new scope.

The depression of 1929 and beyond dwarfed all preceding economic disruptions, both in magnitude and in intensity. In 1929 the index of security prices in the United States was in the neighborhood of 200-210; in 1932 it had fallen to 30-40. Commodity prices in general fell by 30 to 40 percent, and in some commodity markets the drop was even more catastrophic. Production in the chief manufacturing countries of the world from 30 to 50 percent, and the value of world trade in 1932 was a third of what it was three years before. Worldwide, something like 30 million people were unemployed.

There have been many economic downturns in modern economic history, but never anything to compare with the years of the Great Depression. Few books have conveyed that period with greater clarity and precision than this masterpiece by Lionel Robbins. Murray Weidenbaum's masterful new introduction adds to its contemporary value.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781412810081
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 03/30/2009
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Lionel Robbins (1898-1984) was the first chancellor of the University of Stirling and chairman of the Court of Government of the London School of Economics. He was formerly professor of economics at the London School of Economics, chairman of the Committee on Higher Education, and president of the British Academy. He has written many books and articles.

Murray Weidenbaum is Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis and honorary chairman of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy. He was the first chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to Ronald Reagan and also served as a member of Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board. He is the author of numerous books, including Business and Government in the Global Marketplace, One-Armed Economist, and The Bamboo Network.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition xiii

Preface xxv

Chapter I 1914-1933

1 Introduction 1

2 Pre-war Capitalism 1

3 War 3

4 Post-war Chaos 6

5 Boom 7

6 Collapse 10

7 The Great Depression 10

Chapter II Misconceptions

1 Introduction 12

2 The Fall of Prices 12

3 Over-production 13

4 Deflation 16

5 Shortage of Gold 19

6 Maldistribution of Gold 22

Chapter III The Genesis of the Depression

1 Introduction 30

2 The Problem restated 30

3 The Structure of Production 31

4 The Theoretical Effects of an Expansion of Credit 34

5 Outline of a possible Trade Cycle 39

6 Real and Monetary Explanations of Cyclical Fluctuation 42

7 The American Boom 43

8 International Credit Expansion 49

9 The Genesis of the Boom 51

Chapter IV The Causes of Deflation

1 Introduction 55

2 Politics 57

3 War, Capital Consumption and Change 58

4 The Post-war Economic Structure 59

5 The Financial Policies of the Boom 61

6 Protective Tariffs 65

7 The Maintenance of Consumers' Purchasing Power 69

8 Bankruptcy-Phobia 71

Chapter V Great Britain and the Financial Crisis

1 Introduction 76

2 The Post-war Monetary Controversy 76

3 The Period of Stagnation 80

4 Great Britain and the World Slump 87

5 Floating Balances 88

6 The Crisis 91

7 Retrospect of the Gold Standard 96

Chapter VI International Chaos

1 Introduction 100

2 The Case of Germany 100

3 The Fortunes of Sterling 104

4 Gold Prices and Deflation 110

5 America leaves the Gold Standard 119

Chapter VII Restrictionism and Planning

1 The American Recovery Programme 125

2 Restriction of Hours of Labour 126

3 Agricultural "Adjustment" 129

4 Maintaining the Value of InvestedCapital 136

5 The Cumulative Tendencies of Restrictionism 143

6 The Meaning of Planning 145

7 The Central Difficulty of a Planned Society 148

8 Planning and Economic Nationalism 156

Chapter VIII Conditions of Recovery

1 Introduction 160

2 Stabilisation of Exchanges 160

3 The Basis of an International Monetary System 164

4 "A Gold Standard with Movable Parities" 172

5 Removal of Trade Restrictions 182

6 The Freeing of the Market 185

7 The Restriction of Restrictionism 189

8 The Restoration of Capitalism 193

Chapter IX Prospects

1 The Insecurity of the Future 195

2 War 196

3 Socialism 197

4 Democracy 198

Statistical Appendix 203

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