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Reflections On The Great Depression

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Reflections On The Great Depression

Randall E. Parker

Randall E. Parker, Professor of Economics, East Carolina University, US

2002 256 pp Hardback 978 1 84064 745 7
Paperback 978 1 84376 335 2

Hardback $124.00 on-line price $111.60

Paperback $54.00 on-line price $43.20

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Description
‘The interviews with famous senior economists contained in this enjoyable book achieve two important, and quite distinct, goals. First, they provide invaluable insights into the history of theorizing about the Depression. In these conversations we see the struggles of the brightest young economists of their generation to reconcile old paradigms of the efficiency and optimality of free markets with the hard facts of mass unemployment and economic collapse they saw around them in the 1930s. In their attempts to find new answers we see the roots of current ideas and debates in economics. These interviews do an excellent job of recapturing the sense of uncertainty, the feeling of grappling with an intractable puzzle, that almost every one of these economists experienced. The second achievement of these interviews is to provide, well, first-rate highbrow gossip. The interviewees are outstanding economists but they are also an exceptional group of people. They hail from around the world, from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Each, in one way or the other, found his or her way to professional prominence, often in the face of substantial adversity.’
– From the foreword by Ben S. Bernanke, Princeton University, US

It is an accepted truism that the Great Depression did more for the development of modern economics than any other single event. Some of the greatest economists of the twentieth century were inspired to go into the field as a direct result of their experiences during this period.

Contents
Contents: Foreword by Ben S. Bernanke Preface 1. An Overview of the Great Depression 2. Paul Samuelson 3. Milton Friedman 4. Moses Abramovitz 5. Albert Hart 6. Charles Kindleberger 7. Anna Schwartz 8. James Tobin 9. Wassily Leontief 10. Morris Adelman 11. Herbert Stein 12. Victor Zarnowitz 13. Concluding Remarks References Index

Further information

‘This is an enjoyable and immensely readable book which combines in interview format, reflections by prominent economists on contemporary and subsequent explanations of the Great Depression with what Bernanke in his foreword refers to as highbrow gossip concerning the lives and experiences of those selected economists who lived through the era.’
– W.R. Garside, Australian Economic History Review

‘The tone of the book is broad, and it moves fluidly between discussion of grand intellectual debates about what mattered, personal thoughts of the interviewer and his subjects, formative experiences, events and gossip.’
– Christopher M. Meissner, The International History Review

‘This volume is built around transcripts of interviews conducted in 1997 and 1998 with 11 noteworthy economists who had been graduate students in the 1930s. They were invited to reflect on how the Great Depression affected them, both personally and professionally. As Ben S. Bernanke remarks in the foreword, this is “first-rate highbrow gossip”. The result is both instructive and entertaining.’
– William J. Barber, Journal of Economic History

‘The interviews with famous senior economists contained in this enjoyable book achieve two important, and quite distinct, goals. First, they provide invaluable insights into the history of theorizing about the Depression. In these conversations we see the struggles of the brightest young economists of their generation to reconcile old paradigms of the efficiency and optimality of free markets with the hard facts of mass unemployment and economic collapse they saw around them in the 1930s. In their attempts to find new answers we see the roots of current ideas and debates in economics. These interviews do an excellent job of recapturing the sense of uncertainty, the feeling of grappling with an intractable puzzle, that almost every one of these economists experienced. The second achievement of these interviews is to provide, well, first-rate highbrow gossip. The interviewees are outstanding economists but they are also an exceptional group of people. They hail from around the world, from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Each, in one way or the other, found his or her way to professional prominence, often in the face of substantial adversity.’
– From the foreword by Ben S. Bernanke, Princeton University, US

It is an accepted truism that the Great Depression did more for the development of modern economics than any other single event. Some of the greatest economists of the twentieth century were inspired to go into the field as a direct result of their experiences during this period.

This book explores the most prominent economic explanations of the Great Depression and how it affected the lives, experiences, and subsequent thinking of economists who lived through that era. Presented in interview format, this collection of conversations with Moses Abramovitz, Morris Adelman, Milton Friedman, Albert Hart, Charles Kindleberger, Wassily Leontief, Paul Samuelson, Anna Schwartz, James Tobin, Herbert Stein and Victor Zarnowitz provides a record of their reflections on the economics of the Great Depression and on the major events which occurred during those critical years. This volume is also another chapter in the legacy of the interwar generation of economists and is intended as a token of gratitude for the contributions they have made to the economics profession. Randall Parker has given us a window into the lives of these gifted scholars and an important glimpse into the world that shaped them.

Any student or scholar of economics will find this homage to and record of the brightest voices to come out of this critical time to be indispensable.



 
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