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Academics as Economic Advisers: Gold, the ‘Brains Trust,’ and FDR

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  • Sebastian Edwards

Abstract

In this paper I revisit the period leading to the abandonment of the gold standard by the U.S. in 1933. I analyze what the important players – and in particular FDR and the members of the advisory group known as the “Brains Trust” – thought about the gold standard. My conclusion is that during the primary and presidential campaigns, neither Roosevelt nor his inner circle had a strong view on gold or the dollar. They did believe in the need to experiment with different policies in order to get the country out of the slump. Tinkering with the value of the currency was a possible area for experimentation; but it was an option with a relatively low priority, lower than implementing a public works program, and passing a bill that included crops allotment. Until inauguration day FDR’s views on the gold standard were ambivalent and noncommittal; he was neither a diehard fan of the system, nor was he a severe critic.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Edwards, 2015. "Academics as Economic Advisers: Gold, the ‘Brains Trust,’ and FDR," NBER Working Papers 21380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21380
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w21380.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tavlas, George S, 1997. "Chicago, Harvard, and the Doctrinal Foundations of Monetary Economics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 153-177, February.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1985. "Exchange Rates and Economic Recovery in the 1930s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(04), pages 925-946, December.
    3. Eichengreen, Barry & Uzan, Marc, 1990. "The 1933 World Economic Conference as an Instance of Failed International Cooperation," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7xv9g1ps, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    4. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, July.
    5. Barber,William J., 2006. "Designs within Disorder," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521034319, October.
    6. Romer, Christina D., 1992. "What Ended the Great Depression?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 757-784, December.
    7. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133.
    8. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, March.
    9. Wigmore, Barrie A., 1987. "Was the Bank Holiday of 1933 Caused by a Run on the Dollar?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 739-755, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fudickar, Roman & Hottenrott, Hanna & Lawson, Cornelia, 2016. "What’s the price of consulting? Effects of public and private sector consulting on academic research," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201603, University of Turin.
    2. Paul Rhode & Johannes Wieland & Joshua Hausman, 2017. "Recovery from the Great Depression: The Farm Channel in Spring 1933," 2017 Meeting Papers 772, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • B26 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Financial Economics
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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