*A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth*

In his masterpiece, Alexander J. Field writes:

This book is built around a novel claim: potential output grew dramatically across the Depression years (1929-1941), and this advance provided the foundation for the economic and military success of the United States during the Second World War, as well as for what Walt Rostow (1960) called “the age of high mass consumption” that followed.  This view, if accepted, leads to important revisions in our understanding of the sources and trajectory of economic growth to the second quarter of the century and, more broadly, over the longer sweep of U.S. economic history since the Civil War.

…Although the Second World War provided a massive fiscal and monetary boost that eliminated the remnants of Depression-era unemployment, it was, on balance, disruptive of the forward pace of technological progress in the private sector.

During 1929-1941, the annual total factor productivity (measure of economic progress due to new ideas) increase in the trucking sector was 12.61 (!) and for airline transport it was 14.45 (!).

This is a) one of the best economics books of the last ten years, b) one of the best books on the Depression era, c) the only economic interpretation of WWII which makes sense, and is supported by the numbers, and d) one of the must-reads of the year.

Here is an interview with Field.  You can buy the book here.


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