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Comparing the (Secondary) Sources - Book Report/Review Example

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Course 10 October 2011 1. Mitchell, Broadus. Depression Decade: From New Era through New Deal, 1929-1941. New York: Rinehart, 1947. 2. Rosen, Elliot A. Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2005…
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Comparing the (Secondary) Sources
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"Comparing the (Secondary) Sources"

The economic legacy of the Great Depression determined the basic approaches of the U.S. policymakers to the issues of economic regulation that endured until the 1980s. The books presented in this review both deal with the problems of economic history of the period. Despite having a common subject, they represent different approaches to its treatment, which will be explained by the contrast in perception of the Depression in different periods of contemporary history. The research by Mitchell, Depression Decade: From New Era through New Deal, 1929-1941, was published in 1947 as a 9th volume in the Economic History of the United States series. At that time, the science of economic history was still in the phase of its formation, and the research of the Great Depression was looked upon as the integral part of its development. Therefore the author pays special attention to the general economic problems of the Great Depression, rather to its specific features and/or sociocultural influences. In his account of the Depression Mitchell proceeds from the assumption that its causes should be found not so much in the “Roaring Twenties” excessive ebullience, but in the dislocations of the world economic system brought about by the World War I, which led to the massive disproportions in the world trade and facilitated the tendencies for economic protectionism and overproduction. The economic recovery in post-War Europe was actually deceptive, and when its failure coincided with the economic maladies in the late-1920s America, the recipe for a massive global depression was ready. Mitchell pays special attention to the macroeconomic dynamics of the Great Depression. He remarks that the Hoover administration, as well as the majority of non-governmental economic experts, were seized with irrational elation at the economic results of the 1920s decade and were caught unaware with the stock market crash and the beginning of the Depression itself. The author attributes such ineptitude at economic prognosis both to the limitations of laissez-faire ideology that was dominant in the period, and to the overbearing psychological effects of previous economic successes that made a critical evaluation of the situation hardly possible. The deficit politics of the Hoover administration, in opinion of the author, further exacerbated situation and led to the drastic aggravation of the mass unemployment crisis brought about by the Great Depression. Mitchell analyses the recovery policies of the Roosevelt administration, popularly known as the New Deal, with the great degree of scepticism. He shows how various policies popularly attributed to Roosevelt’s genius were in fact conceived in the previous period under the Hoover administration and were not put into effect mostly due to disagreements between different factions of the ruling elite. Mitchell remarks that it was the economic and psychological effects of early 1933 banking freeze that finally allowed for more rational consideration of the policy making alternatives and enabled the New Deal to be at least partially implemented. Nonetheless, as the statistics cited in his monograph show, the negative effects of the Depression were not actually alleviated until the entry of the USA in the World War II. Mitchell’s book represents a fundamental attempt at conceptualising the causes and consequences of the Great Dep Read More
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