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The Great Depression analogy1


  • Bordo, Michael
  • James, Harold


In the discussion of our contemporary economic disease, the Great Depression analogy refuses to go away. Almost every policy-maker referred to conditions that had ‘not been seen since the Great Depression’, even before the failure of Lehman. Some even went further – the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England notably called the crisis the worst ‘financial crisis in human history’. In its April 2009 World Economic Outlook, the IMF looked explicitly at the analogy not only in the collapse of financial confidence, but also in the rapid decline of trade and industrial activity across the world. In general, history rather than economic theory seems to offer a guide in interpreting wildly surprising and inherently unpredictable events. Some observers, notably Paul Krugman, have concluded that a Dark Age of macroeconomics has set in.

Suggested Citation

  • Bordo, Michael & James, Harold, 2010. "The Great Depression analogy1," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 127-140, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:fihrev:v:17:y:2010:i:02:p:127-140_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Elena Martínez-Ruiz & María A. Pons, 2014. "Las crisis financieras en perspectiva histórica: paralelismos entre el pasado y el presente," Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research (IHE-EHR), Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociación Española de Historia Económica, vol. 10(02), pages 77-80.
    2. Bee, Marco & Riccaboni, Massimo & Trapin, Luca, 2017. "An extreme value analysis of the last century crises across industries in the U.S. economy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 65-78.
    3. Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, 2016. "Banking Union in Historical Perspective: The Initiative of the European Commission in the 1960s–1970s," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 913-927, July.
    4. Samman, Amin, 2011. "History in finance and fiction in history: The crisis of 2008 and the return of the past," economic sociology_the european electronic newsletter, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, vol. 12(3), pages 26-34.
    5. Johannes Lindvall, 2013. "Economic crises as political opportunities," Chapters, in: Mats Benner (ed.), Before and Beyond the Global Economic Crisis, chapter 7, pages 132-150, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Ana María Cerro & Osvaldo Meloni, 2014. "Making explosive cocktails: Recipes and costs of 20 Argentine crises from 1865 to 2004," Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research (IHE-EHR), Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociación Española de Historia Económica, vol. 10(02), pages 104-114.

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