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America's Great Depression [With Headphones] Preloaded Digital Audio Player – 1 Mar 2009


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Product details

  • Preloaded Digital Audio Player
  • Publisher: Findaway World (1 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433276046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433276040
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Shane Slade on 2 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Murray Rothbard's thesis is clear and succinct. Intervention in the free market economy by governments and the banking systems they control, are solely responsible for economic "booms". Also that when these booms lead to the inevitable "bust", governments often delay recovery by more intervention. Mr Rothbard gives a detailed and fascinating description of the road to ruin that led to the great American Depression and the reasons for its longevity.

All economic "boom's" share certain characteristics. Credit expansion and its inflationary effects are the source of the problem. Government contributes to this problem by its expansive monetary policies. It also allows the banks to indulge in irresponsible lending which often reaches levels that can never be redeemed given their lack of tangible assets. Rothbard reserves a special dislike of banks. Essentially all banks are potentially bankrupt due to lack of sufficient assets to support their loans. At worst they are a giant "Ponzi" scheme. Hence the susceptibility of banks to a run on their assets in a downturn.

Governments however shoulder the responsibility for this inflationary credit expansion as they exercise control of the banks through the Federal Reserve in the US and the Bank of England in the UK.

Governments tend to delay recovery by further expanding the money supply (recently labelled "quantitative easing" in the current world economic turmoil) in an attempt to stave off deflation. Such interventionist activity defers the inevitable liquidations and bankruptcy requisite for an early recovery. The book plots the prolonging of the US depression in the 1930's through President Hoover's interventionist policies in the 1930's, in fascinating detail.

This book is timeless in its lessons.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Morten Pedersen on 30 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Popular belief is that Hoover was a firm believer in Laissez-Faire. This book sets out to clarify that he wasn't. Although he started to reverse his position late on in his presidency, most of his actions reflected an economic view not dissimilar to leaders in our present situation.

On the free markets, selling prices determine costs, not vice versa. This means that in a time of deflation, keeping wages high leads to more jobs losses, as wages reduce profitability, and in some cases even lead to closure of private enterprise. Yet, this was the course Hoover was on, declaring that wages should be kept high to retain spending power - ignoring that real spending power will increase during times of deflation, even with static wages. As an example - in the 1921 recession wages had been swiftly cut by 19%, and as a result, the United States were quick to emerge from the recession.

In the run-up to the depression (1927), Europe - and England especially - were in dire straits. The US Fed decided to cut interest rates, thereby artifially helping England, but also thereby boosting exports. However, once the European countries started faltering once again, the policy of cheap credit meant a substantial inflow of capital into the stock market, increasing stock prices and causing inflation. Furthermore, banks also shuffled deposits into time-locked accounts, thereby reducing reserve requirements, and allowing them to lend out even more money.

Once the depression hit, Hoover decided to increase public spending through infrastructure construction, and make cheap credit available to banks and heavy industry. The banks however, with interest rates on the decline, didn't find many opportune risk-reward scenarios, and cut lending thereby aggravating the situation.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Southwood on 24 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
I jumped into this book aged 17 while interviewing at University, and I had the feeling I'd jumped in at the deep end. Up to that point I had only experienced one or two basic introductions to Austrian Economics (including the excellent Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics ), and before that only a few pop-economics books like Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist. Of course, I had studied a year of A level economics, but A level economics, in my opinion, has a net-negative effect on one's powers of economic analysis. America's Great Depression is a book of deep and powerful analysis.

The book is structured in three sections, after the numerous (and interesting) introductions. Firstly, we have an exposition of the competing theories of the business cycle. Secondly, we have an historical analysis of the period from the end of the previous depression (1921) leading up to Hoover's inauguration as president in 1929. Thirdly, we have an analysis of the actions of Hoover's presidency.

In the first section, Rothbard convincingly argues that Keynesian, Monetarist and other theories of the Great Depression are, at their best, misled, and at their worst, utterly unrelated to the facts of the matter. This comes with one of the best elucidations of the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle (ATBC or ABCT).

In the second section, Rothbard shows us how there was a significant inflation of the money supply 1921-29, instigated primarily by the banking elite on Wall Street and facilitated through the relatively new federal reserve apparatus.
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