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"Liquidation" Cycles: Old-Fashioned Real Business Cycle Theory and the Great Depression

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  • J. Bradford De Long

Abstract

During the 1929-33 slide into the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve took almost no steps to keep the money supply or the price level stable. Instead, the Federal Reserve acted - disastrously - as if the gathering Great Depression could not be avoided, and was best endured. Such a liquidationist' theory of depressions was in fact common before the Keynesian Revolution, and was held and advanced by economists like Kayek and Schumpeter. This paper tries to reconstruct the logic of the liquidationist' view. It argues that the perspective was carefully thought out (although not adequate to the Depression), may hold some truth in other times and places, and could be the core of a more productive research program that currently popular real' business cycle theories.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Bradford De Long, 1990. ""Liquidation" Cycles: Old-Fashioned Real Business Cycle Theory and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 3546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3546
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    1. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
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    1. Against one-trick ponies
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2020-03-18 14:34:27

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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1998. "The Macroeconomics of Specificity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 724-767, August.
    2. Mauro Boianovsky & Hans-Michael Trautwein, 2010. "Schumpeter on unemployment," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 233-263, April.
    3. Matthew Rognlie & Andrei Shleifer & Alp Simsek, 2018. "Investment Hangover and the Great Recession," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 113-153, April.
    4. Carlos Carreira & Paulino Teixeira, 2008. "Internal and external restructuring over the cycle: a firm-based analysis of gross flows and productivity growth in Portugal," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 211-220, June.
    5. Daniel Kuehn, 2011. "A critique of Powell, Woods, and Murphy on the 1920–1921 depression," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 273-291, September.
    6. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-1368, December.
    7. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 2005. "The Cost of Recessions Revisited: A Reverse-Liquidationist View," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 313-341.
    8. Barry Eichengreen, 2004. "Viewpoint: Understanding the Great Depression," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 1-27, February.
    9. Barry Eichengreen, 1991. "Designing a Central Bank for Europe: A Cautionary Tale From the Early Years of the Federal Reserve System," NBER Working Papers 3840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Free Huizinga & Peter Broer, 2004. "Wage moderation and labour productivity," CPB Discussion Paper 28, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    11. Ben S. Bernanke, 2013. "A Century of US Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 3-16, Fall.
    12. Piekkola, Hannu & Böckerman, Petri, 2002. "On Whom Falls the Burden of Restructuring? Evidence from Finland," Discussion Papers 714, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    13. Marcello Estevão & Tiago Severo, 2014. "Shocks, financial dependence and efficiency: Evidence from U.S. and Canadian industries," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 47(2), pages 442-465, May.
    14. Huovinen, Pasi & Piekkola, Hannu, 2001. "Unemployment and Early Retirements of the Aged Workers in Finland," Discussion Papers 750, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    15. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 2000. "Creative Destruction and Development: Institutions, Crises, and Restructuring," NBER Working Papers 7849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Barry Eichengreen, 2002. "Still Fettered After All These Years," NBER Working Papers 9276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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