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What Ended the Great Depression? Reevaluating the Role of Fiscal Policy

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  • Nathan Perry
  • Matias Vernengo

Abstract

Conventional wisdom contends that fiscal policy was of secondary importance to the economic recovery in the 1930s. The recovery is then connected to monetary policy that allowed non-sterilized gold inflows to increase the money supply. Often, this is shown by measuring the fiscal multipliers, and demonstrating that they were relatively small. This paper shows that problems with the conventional measures of fiscal multipliers in the 1930s may have created an incorrect consensus on the irrelevance of fiscal policy. The rehabilitation of fiscal policy is seen as a necessary step in the reinterpretation of the positive role of New Deal policies for the recovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan Perry & Matias Vernengo, 2011. "What Ended the Great Depression? Reevaluating the Role of Fiscal Policy," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_678, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_678
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Miguel Almunia & Agustín Bénétrix & Barry Eichengreen & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Gisela Rua, 2010. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: similarities, differences and lessons," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 219-265, April.
    2. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "When Is the Government Spending Multiplier Large?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 78-121.
    3. Michael D. Bordo & Claudia Goldin & Eugene N. White, 1998. "The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord98-1.
    4. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, January.
    5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
    6. Magnus Blomström & Robert E. Lipsey & Mario Zejan, 1996. "Is Fixed Investment the Key to Economic Growth?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 269-276.
    7. Greg Hannsgen & Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, 2009. "Fiscal Stimulus, Job Creation, and the Economy: What Are the Lessons of the New Deal?," Economics Policy Note Archive 09-10, Levy Economics Institute.
    8. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barry Eichengreen, 2016. "The Great Depression in a Modern Mirror," De Economist, Springer, pages 1-17.
    2. Barry Eichengreen, 2016. "The Great Depression in a Modern Mirror," De Economist, Springer, pages 1-17.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal Policy; Great Depression;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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