Interview with Robert Barro, on the New Deal and Great Depression

From The Browser, here is one bit:

It’s clear that a lot of the policies that were put into place were
negative, but as to sorting out how important they were, that’s a much
more challenging question.  And I think Roosevelt at the time
recognized ex-post that some of the things he tried were failures and
then his attitude was “OK, it’s a failure I’ll stop doing it.” Which is
actually pretty positive. For example, some of the things he did was
try to organize labor unions and also businesses essentially promoting
monopoly – I don’t think that was a plus.  He was trying really hard to
keep wages and prices from falling with direct influence and that was a
negative. The effect of the expenditure programs is less clear. In the
mid-1930s with the New Deal there was an unusual amount of
infrastructure-type of expenditures. But it’s not actually big enough
to sort out in a statistical sense — to figure out how much it
mattered in terms of the recovery after the trough in 1932-33. I don’t
think we know that that was a mistake, but it’s not clear that it was
all that important.

Barro also offers a reading list on the topic.


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