Cover image for Hall of mirrors : the Great Depression, the great recession, and the uses--and misuses--of history
Title:
Hall of mirrors : the Great Depression, the great recession, and the uses--and misuses--of history
Author:
Eichengreen, Barry J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2015]
Physical Description:
vi, 512 pages ; 25 cm
Summary:
"A brilliantly conceived dual-track account of the two greatest economic crises of the last century and their consequences"--

"The Great Depression and the Great Recession are the two great economic crises of the past hundred years. While there are accounts of both episodes, no one has yet attempted a sustained comparative analysis. In Hall of Mirrors, Barry Eichengreen draws on his unparalleled expertise for a brilliantly conceived dual-track account of the two crises and their consequences. Rather than telling the stories of the two crises in sequence, instead he weaves them together. He describes the two bubble-fuelled build-ups, then the onset of crisis, the subsequent financial and economic and collapse, the policy response, and finally the recovery." --
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction -- Part I: The best of times -- New age economics -- Golden globe -- Competing on a violent scale -- By legislation or fiat -- Where credit is due -- Castles in Spain -- Part II: The worst of times -- Spent bullets -- The next leg down --On Europe's shores -- Will America topple too? -- Largely contained -- Scant evidence -- The spiral -- Fish or foul -- Part III: Toward better times -- Revival or reform -- Something for everyone -- Takahashi's revenge -- Dip again -- Preventing the worst -- Stressed and stimulated -- Unconventional policy -- Part IV: Avoiding the next time -- Wall Street and Main Street -- Normalization in an abnormal economy -- Making things as difficult as possible -- Men in black -- Euro or not -- Conclusion.
ISBN:
9780199392001
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The two great financial crises of the past century are the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession, which began in 2008. Both occurred against the backdrop of sharp credit booms, dubious banking practices, and a fragile and unstable global financial system. When markets went intocardiac arrest in 2008, policymakers invoked the lessons of the Great Depression in attempting to avert the worst. While their response prevented a financial collapse and catastrophic depression like that of the 1930s, unemployment in the U.S. and Europe still rose to excruciating high levels. Painand suffering were widespread. The question, given this, is why didn't policymakers do better? Hall of Mirrors, Barry Eichengreen's monumental twinned history of the two crises, provides the farthest-reaching answer to this question to date. Alternating back and forth between the two crises and between North America and Europe,Eichengreen shows how fear of another Depression following the collapse of Lehman Brothers shaped policy responses on both continents, with both positive and negative results. Since bank failures were a prominent feature of the Great Depression, policymakers moved quickly to strengthen troubledbanks. But because derivatives markets were not important in the 1930s, they missed problems in the so-called shadow banking system. Having done too little to support spending in the 1930s, governments also ramped up public spending this time around. But the response was indiscriminate and quicklycame back to haunt overly indebted governments, particularly in Southern Europe. Moreover, because politicians overpromised, and because their measures failed to stave off a major recession, a backlash quickly developed against activist governments and central banks. Policymakers then prematurelysuccumbed to the temptation to return to normal policies before normal conditions had returned. The result has been a grindingly slow recovery in the United States and endless recession in Europe.Hall of Mirrors is both a major work of economic history and an essential exploration of how we avoided making only some of the same mistakes twice. It shows not just how the "lessons" of Great Depression history continue to shape society's response to contemporary economic problems, but also howthe experience of the Great Recession will permanently change how we think about the Great Depression.


Author Notes

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System and Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

The great recession of 2008-2010 increased unemployment substantially in the US and abroad. But it also created employment for a plethora of scholars and journalists who delved into writing books about this period of US history. Among them: Alan Blinder's After the Music Stopped (CH, Sep'13, 51-0381), Martin Wolf's The Shifts and the Shocks (CH, Jan'15, 52-2671), James Galbraith's The End of Normal (CH, Mar'15, 52-3758), and Noam Scheiber's The Escape Artists (CH, Oct'12, 50-0990). Into this fray jumps Eichengreen (Univ. of California, Berkeley). What sets this author apart--other than more than 100 pages of endnotes, references, and an annotated listing of the complete cast of characters--is his insistence on contrasting the latest financial crisis with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Hence the title (though Versailles wears it better) and inclusion of European officials. Did policy makers in the 21st century learn from the mistakes made 80 years ago, or did they fall into the same traps? In trying to answer that question--apart from some legerdemain and occasional overlooking of the vast changes in world economies in the last eight decades--Eichengreen's contribution to understanding the past and his en garde warnings for the future make this book one of the best. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. --Allen R. Sanderson, University of Chicago


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part I The Best of Times
1 New Age Economicsp. 17
2 Golden Globep. 34
3 Competing on a Violent Scalep. 50
4 By Legislation or Fiatp. 64
5 Where Credit Is Duep. 78
6 Castles in Spainp. 89
Part II The Worst of Times
7 Spent Bulletsp. 105
8 The Next Leg Downp. 117
9 On Europe's Shoresp. 134
10 Will America Topple Too?p. 148
11 Largely Containedp. 167
12 Scant Evidencep. 184
13 The Spiralp. 203
14 Fish or Foulp. 213
Part III Toward Better Times
15 Revival or Reformp. 225
16 Something for Everyonep. 239
17 Takahashi's Revengep. 253
18 Dip Againp. 266
19 Preventing the Worstp. 281
20 Stressed and Stimulatedp. 293
21 Unconventional Policyp. 302
Part IV Avoiding the Next Time
22 Wall Street and Main Streetp. 315
23 Normalization in an Abnormal Economyp. 326
24 Making Things as Difficult as Possiblep. 337
25 Men in Blackp. 350
26 Euro or Notp. 364
Conclusionp. 377
Dramatis Personaep. 389
Acknowledgmentsp. 413
Notesp. 417
Referencesp. 471
Indexp. 495