"Greedy stock market speculators caused the stock market crash of 1929, which triggered the worst depression in American history; President Herbert Hoover believed in an outdated laissez-faire economic philosophy, so he did nothing; thankfully, President Roosevelt was elected, and his New Deal policies saved capitalism and helped the common man survive the Great Depression; and finally, World War II was an enormous boon to the U.S. economy, and it finally solved the problem once and for all."
Those of us with a preference for economic liberty and peace should be greatly disturbed by this story. If true, it suggests that the best ways to fix a broken economy are (1) total war, including conscription; and (2) dramatic increases in government taxation, spending, regulation, and redistribution.
Thankfully, there are convincing reasons to believe that the standard narrative is wrong. There is a lot more I need to read on the topic, but here are some resources and ideas that I look forward to exploring further:
-Murray N. Rothbard, America's Great Depression (free PDF and ebook)
-George Selgin, "The Economics of America's Great Depression" (course syllabus in PDF format with many links to readings). My interest in this topic is largely attributable to a fantastic lecture I heard Selgin deliver in June.
-David Gordon, "What you must read about the Great Depression," Mises Daily, 2/22/09
-George Selgin, review of Hall and Ferguson's The Great Depression.
-Robert P. Murphy, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal.
Stephen Davies, "Top 3 Myths About the Great Depression and the New Deal," LearnLiberty.org:
In my next post, I will share excerpts from Rauchway's The Great Depression and the New Deal, which - unlike the libertarian works linked to above - is firmly on the side of the standard narrative.