Cover image for Rethinking the Great Depression
Rethinking the Great Depression
Smiley, Gene, 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, [2002]

Physical Description:
179 pages ; 22 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HB3717 1929 .S55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Synthesizing new economic research of recent decades, the author offers new insights and some surprising conclusions about the Great Depression.

Author Notes

Gene Smiley is professor of economics at Marquette University.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Smiley, an academic, revisits the Great Depression, the period from 1929 until 1933 that had such a slow recovery that the whole decade of the 1930s is often considered the Depression. Armed with increasingly sophisticated analytical techniques, the author sets out to survey the 1930s so that readers without training in economics have a better understanding of the forces at work during this period. In his view, the Great Depression prompted growing intellectual fascination with socialist economic ideas and precipitated World War II, which in turn led to the spread of communism worldwide. This era gave rise to Keynesian macroeconomics, which explained the Depression and advised how to get out of it and is now mainstream economic analysis. Smiley contends that "in many ways the Great Depression was the defining moment for 20th Century America." --Mary Whaley

Choice Review

The Great Depression was arguably one of the critical economic and political events of the 20th century. However, explaining the causes and significances of this economic collapse to nonspecialists has challenged scholars, as they have often used jargon and complex analysis that befuddled readers. Economist Smiley (Marquette Univ.) has produced a solution in this slim and readable volume. In five concise chapters, Smiley surveys 1920s prosperity, the causes of the Great Depression, and New Deal responses and their consequences in language that should be clear and understandable to students. Drawing on recent scholarship, he argues that the reorientation of global trade after WW I and the infatuation with the gold standard helped to produce the Great Depression. Despite the good intentions of the New Deal, many of its programs suppressed the economy. Smiley also contends that prosperity did not return with WW II; rather, wartime government controls, rationing, and taxes postponed economic recovery until 1946. Sections describing the gold standard, world trade in the 1920s, and the National Recovery Administration are well done. The concluding chapter on the legacy of the Great Depression could provide interesting discussion points for students. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All general and academic collections. R. M. Hyser James Madison University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Prosperity Gives Way to the Great Depressionp. 3
Economic growth in the 1920s
Declining industries
Taxes, income distribution, and the stock market boom
Initial stages of the great contraction
The collapsing world economy
Continuing decline, increasing unrest, and the final banking panic
The state of the economy in March 1933
2 What Caused the Great Depression?p. 31
A framework for analysis: markets, prices, and economic contractions
Banks and the Federal Reserve System
The gold standard
Explaining the contraction: World War I dislocations, debts, and reparations
Restoring the gold standard
German hyperinflation
Destabilizing gold flows and the deflationary policies
Why the depression was more severe in the United States
3 The First New Deal, 1933-1935p. 71
Roosevelt and his advisers
Ending the financial crisis
The First Hundred Days
The first Agricultural Adjustment Act
The National Industrial Recovery Act
Slow recovery from 1933 to 1935
End of the NRA
4 The Recovery Aborted, 1935-1939p. 105
Recovery from 1935 to 1937
Roosevelt swings to the left
The 1937-1938 depression
Why recovery was so slow
5 The Legacy of the Great Depressionp. 133
World War II and the rise of Keynesian economics
Monetary policy after the Great Depression
Growth of the federal government and federal fiscalism
Intervention in agriculture
The rise of social welfare programs
International trade and finance
Could it happen again?
A Note on Sourcesp. 164
Indexp. 170