Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 1, 2009

SHLAES STRIKES AGAIN.... Over the summer, the Washington Post ran a piece from conservative writer Amity Shlaes, explaining that the national economy was fine, there was no recession, and that Phil Gramm was right to call us a "nation of whiners."

Undeterred, in early December, the Post ran another piece from Shlaes, which argued that the federal government shouldn't try to respond to an economic downturn through stimulus investments. In late December, the Post ran yet another piece from Shlaes, repeating the same point, and arguing that FDR's New Deal did not improve the economy in the 1930s.

It's been a month, so the Post decided it's time, once again, to run another piece from Shlaes, this time arguing -- you guessed it -- that Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal didn't work. Indeed, Shlaes insists the Great Depression would have taken care of itself, if only FDR hadn't tried to rescue the nation from financial ruin.

I'll just let Dean Baker take it from here.

While the basic argument has the form of a no evidence if counter-factual assertion (e.g. the good fairy of the market would have set things right, if only Roosevelt didn't get in the way), the discussion is contradicted by the known facts of the era. Roosevelt's New Deal Agenda lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent in 1937. None of us would be happy with 10 percent unemployment, but it difficult to complain about policies that reduced the unemployment rate by an average of almost 4 percentage points a year. The annual growth rate over these four years averaged 13.0 percent. It is always possible that the magic of the market would have done better, but there is no reason that we should believe so.

Shlaes is correct in pointing out that things turned bad again in 1937. The Blue Dogs of the Roosevelt era won sway and got Roosevelt to cut spending and raise taxes. This threw the economy back into a serious recession, just as any good Keynesian would have predicted.

When it comes to writings on economics, the Post's Outlook section is probably best viewed as a jobs program rather than a source for serious ideas.

Paul Krugman explained in November that there's "a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse." Shlaes is, alas, at the top of this enterprise.

Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

Why mess with a perfect record? Look, opinions don't have to be right or even well reasoned -- they just have to be assertive. No amount of facts, reasoning or reality can dent them because 1) they are opinions and 2) they are 'provocative'. Plus, there's nothing you can say that will make you look stupid enough for the Idiot-Persecution Complex to jettison you.

See, for a "liberal" example, everything Amy Sullivan ever wrote.

Posted by: Jay B. on February 1, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

One of our comedians said it in simple words: You Can't fix stupid!

Posted by: Bruce Hinshaw on February 1, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

This week's WP Outlook section has a real "Pull up the drawbridge and man the parapets" vibe to it. I'm thinking that all this recent votin' & inauguratin' & so forth is starting to produce a sense of consternation among the powers that be.

Posted by: MattF on February 1, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

One of the finest days for the Financial Times was in dumping that bizarre woman.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on February 1, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

....I'd appreciate it.

Assume bad intentions and the WaPo's actions are very easy to explain.

Posted by: PeakVT on February 1, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Paul Krugman explained in November that there's 'a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse.'"

in what way is intellect involved?

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 1, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Once it became obvious that the right's comparison of Reagan to FDR was laughable, they had no choice but to retaliate against FDR for being so mean to Reagan.

Posted by: JoeW on February 1, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

All newspaper editorial and op-ed sections are expressions of the publisher's ideology. No exceptions. They don't care about their readers, which is the main reason they have fewer and fewer of them

Posted by: JMG on February 1, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Roosevelt's New Deal Agenda lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent in 1937. None of us would be happy with 10 percent unemployment - Dean Baker

You cannot fairly compare the unemployment rate from the 1930's to now. During the depression this rate included what are now called "discouraged workers". This would add 642,000 to the 11.1 million listed as unemployed. Another 1.3 million are listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "marginally attached workers", that is they are able to work and want to work, but in most cases are just entering the work force, or reentering from retirement. There are also underemployed - people who are working part time because they cannot find full-time work. If you put these categories together, you get 13.5% today as opposed to the official unemployment rate of 7.2%.

Posted by: Danp on February 1, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.


Butbutbut Fred Hiatt is one of the most influential liberals in the media! Forbes wouldn't lie to me about that, would they?

Posted by: Incertus (Brian) on February 1, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

You actually have to ask this, Steve? The paper just hired Bill Kristol, after his disastrous NYTimes run, and regularly peddles or peddled such luminaries such as Howie Kurtz, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, and George Will. Not to mention the hack who runs it, Fred Hiatt.

The fact that Fred Hiatt is still considered 'liberal' just means they need MORE conservative hackery to balance out rational thought.

Posted by: Kryptik on February 1, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Amity the performing mule is a made Villager, and thus she can always be depended upon.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on February 1, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

...there's "a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse." Shlaes is, alas, at the top of this enterprise.

Instead of complaining, I think we should all be down on our knees thanking god that Ayn Rand is not still alive.

Because if she was, she'd be on the WaPo op-ed page.

Posted by: Jennifer on February 1, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Why did the Post publish the piece? I dunno -- maybe for the same reason they hired William Kristol, ie. desperately trying to turn back the clock to the early Bush days when they were the press organ (and I use the term advisedly) of that arrogant and inept mal-administration.

Posted by: dalloway on February 1, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK
Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

Should it be considered a paid placement? Newspapers aren't doing well ... money for propaganda may have changed hands.

Posted by: Dictynna on February 1, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Problem is the Publisher, son of Katherine, Mr. Graham. I worked for a newspaper run by the idiot son of the publisher. My paper went Pravda and banned candidate Paul Simon from the news pages in his U.S. Senate campaign in 1984. Simon and his bow tie were an "unperson". Never forget Mr. Graham is the son of a schizophrenic who committed suicide, born with a silver spoon, steeped in Village right wing politics and has never been held accountable fer nothin'. Thus you get a Fred Hyatt carrying out Graham's orders to hire the Billy K's and Amity's blathering stupidities on the op ed pages.
P.S. Back in '84, our readers reacted to the paper's unfairness and cast 65% of their vote for Paul. The day-after-election-day was the best of my life, with us radical reporters wearing bow ties to the office. Place was so paranoid no one laughed, except us of course. Same principle applies to the WAPO. Readers are walking away.

Posted by: daver9 on February 1, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"things turned bad again in 1937. The Blue Dogs of the Roosevelt era won sway and got Roosevelt to cut spending and raise taxes...."

I don't think that's quite accurate. What happened was that the original emergency programs ended, and FDR had to shift from unanimous support (including Republicans; his original proposals were voice-voted in the House and Senate) for things like the bank holiday and Harry Hopkins-run employment, to longer term stuff that would necessarily involve lots more arguments over detail -- hell, that's why Ickes' initial efforts didn't work and FDR gave the jobs program to Hopkins in the first place.

1935-36 was the transition from the impact of the first 100 Days to the New Deal's second act: the whole point of 'bold experimentation' is that SOME of 'em are gonna fail. FDR wasn't forced to cut taxes or eliminate his first jobs programs, he was tinkering to see what would work.

But wasn't the real problem with the American economy after 1935 or so, the reason why unemployment didn't continue to decline, that Europe's economy wasn't recovering, either?

France and Britain were still stuck, Germany had gone Nazi (I suppose we could have started building their tanks for 'em, but I dunno as that would have been a wise economic solution), so we didn't have the markets to sell into, especially with Dust Bowl harvests.

When FDR took us off gold that meant that he was willing to lose the short-term, small advantages of subsidizing exports for the longer-term monetary health of the United States: so we didn't have a strong global economy, particularly in Europe, to help put Americans back to work. The big problem wasn't entirely limited to half-hearted Keynesians in the US, and it certainly wasn't that American democracy recovered enough that -- imagine! -- Congress started to re-assert itself.

FDR's experiments succeeded spectacularly in 1933-36, but over-reached in his second term ('37-'41), especially in '37 and '38: let's not read the wrong, anti-Blue Dog message into history.

Wrong end of the telescope.

Posted by: anonymous on February 1, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

"Fred Hiatt is one of the most influential liberals in the media! "

I prefer that people consider me conservative when I criticize Republicans, it adds to my credibility.

So naturally the media is liberal, that's what they tell us they are...

Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 1, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

After George Will, the bench for intelligent conservative commentary is pretty fucking short. It's basically either this guy (who sounds like he knows what he's talking about, even though his argument is absurd) or some Ann Coulter/Jonah Goldberg type screaming fascism and treason. That's my guess.

Posted by: mmy on February 1, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Shlaes: The economy is fine. Let them eat cake.

Posted by: jen f on February 1, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen asks: "If only somebody would explain to me..."

Let me answer that by asking a simple question...

Posted by: lambert strether on February 1, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why keep printing her each month? Because it's apparently the only thing she knows how to write, and because if they don't keep conferring credibility on her, along with a paycheck, she seems to be in a position to hurt the conservative movement should she ever become disgruntled. Remember the US Attorney scandal was blown open by a jilted girlfriend. It's hard to keep everybody happy, when everybody's participating in collusion.

Same holds true about Bill Kristol's parachute. He's a dude who probably knows where some actual bodies are buried.

Posted by: Mr Blifil on February 1, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Fred Hiatt is one of the most influential liberals in the media!"

I prefer that people consider me conservative when I criticize Republicans, it adds to my credibility.

So naturally the media is liberal, that's what they tell us they are...
Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 1, 2009 at 11:58 AM |

Noam Chomsky, in the documentary Manufacturing Consent, maintains that having the public believe that a rightwing media is instead "liberal" not only helps to feed the mega-corporations' propagandistic stranglehold on America, but is, in fact, essential.

It creates a false outlying boundary that those poor rightwingers are powerless to overcome.

"Now, to eliminate confusion, all of this has nothing to do with liberal or conservative bias. According to the propaganda model, both liberal and conservative wings of the media -- whatever those terms are supposed to mean -- fall within the same framework of assumptions.

In fact, if the system functions well, it ought to have a liberal bias, or at least appear to. Because if it appears to have a liberal bias, that will serve to bound thought even more effectively.

In other words, if the press is indeed adversarial and liberal and all these "bad" things, then how can I go beyond it? They're already so extreme in their opposition to power that to go beyond it would be to take off from the planet. So, therefore, it must be that the presuppositions that are accepted in the liberal media are sacrosanct -- can't go beyond them. And a well-functioning system would in fact have a bias of that kind. The media would then serve to say in effect: Thus far and no further."

Posted by: Harry R. Sohl on February 1, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

When I was in high school, in what was at the time a very Republican part of Northern Virginia, there was this whole complex of underground ideas about history that kids told each other in history class, and which they'd probably gotten from their parents. It all felt very subversive because these were ideas contrary to what the teacher and the text said.
Most of them were generally pro-Confederate notions concerning the Civil War. But one of them was that the New Deal made the Depression worse until World War II fixed everything. It was a message perfectly suited to the Reagan era: government spending is no good for the economy unless it's military spending, in which case it has special stimulative powers. During the boom of the middle Reagan years it might have even seemed supported by events.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin on February 1, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I wish people would quit playing dumb. The Post prints dishonest writing because the Post wants dishonest writing. They don't make hiring mistakes. They don't promote liars and fluffers by accident. Whatever they might have been in the distant past, the people who run the Post and the Times are bad guys now.

They don't care what you think. They're going to continue with this stuff. The Post will be as bad five years from now as it is now.

Can the rhetorical questions: Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

It's because the upper management of the Post want to deceive people. That's why.

Lucy isn't going to change, Charlie, no matter how much you beg.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 1, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

What always cracks me up is Shlaes's first name. Surely "Enmity" would fit better...

Posted by: DavidNOE on February 1, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

FDR did make the Depression worse--when he capitulated to conservatives and reduced government spending unemployment again rose dramatically.

So yes, FDR did make the Depression worse--after taking dumb ass conservative advice.

What really bother me about the spineless/stingless jellyfish known as Democrats is that they always want to "cooperate" with Republicans, despite the fact that the GOP defines cooperation as wholesale capitulation.

Second, despite the intellectual candle power on the side of the Dems (such as that provided by liberal pundits, economists, etc.) the they never attempt to explain the Joe Lunch pail the power of their views and the defects of the GOP/conservatives.

I find it difficult to believe that the average person (including people earn in the low six figures) won't think a reduction in payroll taxes isn't superior to cuts in capital gains taxes. Most people work for a living and their savings are for retirement. They don't as a regular matter, live off of their passive investments like the overpaid, superrich executives and trust fund babies do.

Of course, they want high rates of returns and yeilds, bu that is just to build up their "tax-deferred" nest eggs.

But the GOP some how convinces people that the poor and middle class should have more taken out of their paychecks--earned through their labor--than someone well off enough to have investments that he draws on pre-retirement. Sigh. . .

Posted by: Tec619 on February 1, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Even Ringling Bros. can't go with non-stop lion tamers and elephants; the clowns have to come out on cue in the ring---just as "Schleppo the Excretor" has to appear every so often on the pages of the Post.

Posted by: Steve W. on February 1, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

oy, here in NY, the otherwise intelligent morning host on WNYC has this idiot on repeatedly. she's even worse on radio.

Posted by: benjoya on February 1, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can find, Amity holds a BA in English. Period. My daughter will have a BA in English in a few months, so I assume that all the outlets eager to publish Shlaes will happily accept my daughter's economic wisdom, despite the fact that she can't keep track of her checking account balance.

Posted by: Mickey on February 1, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Krugman explained in November that there's "a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse."

1. That's an ad hominem argument, that doesn't even attempt to refute the "idea". That an idea comes from a "right-wing think tank" does not make it false, only suspect. The evidence shows, however, that unemployment and gdp growth were slightly worse under FDR's first term than they had been under Hoover.

2. Krugman has never provided evidence that FDR's program, or any such Keynesian (fiscal "stimulus") program has ever worked. In fact, he acknowledges that FDR's program did not work, but asserts, with absolutely no supporting evidence from anywhere, that it would have worked had the borrowing/spending amounted to a larger fraction of total accumulated U.S. wealth.

Posted by: marketeer on February 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't that FDR overreached in 1937, it's that he listened to deficit hawks and tried to balance the budget, causing a crash faster than had happened in 1929.

And what must be noted - the economies for the next three plus generations rest on the foundation laid by the New Deal. The Triborough Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel are both PWA projects, as was the Hoover Dam which still provides electricity and water to southern California. Thousands of new schools and hospitals were built, and more were renovated and/or received additions. Miles of sewers and water lines were laid, and the Rural Electrification Admin brought electricity to millions that never had it. The CCC built thousands of recreation areas that became state and Fed parks - one is just 9 miles from where I live, and the recreation center in my town, built by the WPA, is still used every day.

Giving money to individuals so that they can buy consumer goods manufactured abroad is not going to provide any long-term investment return.

But a large scale public works program will, while providing more, good paying jobs.

Posted by: Gerald Weinand on February 1, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

hey marketeer-

some evidence for the efficacy of FDR's Depression-fighting programs was just given in this freaking posting. stop whining about krugman (who is unaware of your lowly existence) and refute it already.

Posted by: matt on February 1, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK
The evidence shows, however, that unemployment and gdp growth were slightly worse under FDR's first term than they had been under Hoover.
WTF are you smoking marketeer?

In the first place, the gdp growth was negative every year from 1929 to 1933 and positive every year from 1933 to 1937. So that part of your little fantasy is just plain false.

In the second place, unemployment under Hoover was only better than in FDR's first term only if you average over the whole terms and ignore the fact that it was growing all the way through Hoover's term and shrinking all the way through FDR's first term.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 1, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Privatize TVA now! Right, Amity?

Posted by: Steve Williams on February 1, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

A group of actual professional historians -- as opposed to a right-wing axe-grinder like Shlaes -- have a blog called The Edge of the American West, and they've been pushing back against her nonsense for a while now.

Here's the response to today's inanity:

http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/people-send-these-things-to-me-honest/

Posted by: TR on February 1, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The evidence shows, however, that unemployment and gdp growth were slightly worse under FDR's first term than they had been under Hoover.

What are you talking about? The evidence shows no such thing!

Not only were all the economic indicators better under FDR than under Hoover, they were remarkably better.

Unemployment at the end of Hoover's term was 25%. At the end of FDR's first term it was 10%.

The Dow Jones average was 52 at the end of Hoover's term. At the end of FDR's first term, it was 181.

The GDP grew by 6.5% in 1933, 7.2% in 1934, 8.3% in 1935, and 9.1% in 1936. Phenomenal rates.

Posted by: Arthur on February 1, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just because there really is a recession and the Bush Administration was made up of a bunch of incompetent crooks doesn't mean this isn't a nation of whiners. It's just that the whining about nothing has gotten all mixed up with the whining about something. And now it's all so confusing.

Posted by: oh really on February 1, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Now, if only someone would explain to me why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, I'd appreciate it.

Simple -- they are dyslexic, and think they are actually running a piece from beloved veteran Post entertainment writer Tom Shales. (Incidentally, perhaps her parents were subconsciously thinking of Unity Milford, the British socialite who befriended Hitler, when they named her.)

Posted by: Vincent on February 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen, I know you have your style of soft-pedaling bad faith behavior, but please - "misguided"? "Misguided" implies a flexibility, a willingness to see error and correct behavior. Such willingness is clearly non-existent here. This guy is a duplicitous, venal hack, a propagandist of the first order. Calling him "misguided" affords him exactly the kind of milquetoast cover he needs to purvey his lies - that's right, lies, damned lies and NOTHING 'misguided' about them. He's a LIAR, Mr. Benen, and your unwillingness to take a stand enables his project of deception, which kinda makes you...hmmm.

Posted by: Conrads Ghost on February 1, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The full depth of corruption perpetrated by the Bush administration has not been disclosed because his enablers, the Washington Post and America's media, have kept it hidden from the public. The Post, and the rest of the media, are deeply afraid that the new administration and Congress will expose the treasonous nature of Bush administration corruption. So, they are doing everything within their power to distract us.

By attacking FDR, the only President ever elected four times, they are sending their ongoing subliminal message that Democrats are bad and must be feared by the public. It's the only way they can protect the interests of the corrupt corporations that own them.

Shlaes will continue to be published by the Post every month or so to perpetuate the media's effort to rewrite American history.

Posted by: enslaved on February 1, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

You are a liar, Steve Benen.

Read the first column, here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/11/AR2008071102543.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

which you claim says "the national economy was fine"
and "there is no recession".

Read statements such as

"A recession is two consecutive quarters in which the economy shrinks, and last quarter it grew."

and

"Still, to liken the current moment to the Great Depression, or even the early 1980s, as Campaign Economists have, is to whine, just as Gramm said. During the Depression, people lost their homes even though they had borrowed only 10 percent of the purchase price. People losing their homes today frequently have borrowed 90 percent or more. The country approached double-digit unemployment in the early 1980s. This week, even as McCain was trying to talk his campaign past Gramm's comments, joblessness stood at a historically modest 5.5 percent."

and

"Second, as evidenced by the plummeting prices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shares, serious trouble may be closer than we think. The plunging stock of the government-sponsored mortgage companies reminds us that those entities urgently require restructuring. Wall Street figures and the Senate Finance Committee that Gramm used to chair are already talking about how to structure a bailout"

"In short, to fix it all, we need a frank conversation about the economy"

Shlaes did NOT say the economy is "fine". She
clearly said that it was in trouble.

And the bunch of dittoheads who read your crap
just lapped it up. because they LIKE to be lied to. That's why they come here, because they just
can't handle truth and reality.

What a disgraceful performance.

Posted by: a on February 1, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, "a" - a recession isn't defined by "two consecutive quarters in which the economy shrinks" - Shlaes is talking out of her hat, and if you're defending her so vociferously, obviously you are too. If Shlaes is going to get something so fundamental wrong, then what credibility does she have to lecture us on anything else having to do with economics?

Posted by: Andy on February 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Unemployment and gdp growth were slightly worse under FDR's first term than they had been under Hoover.

Not true, but conservatives don't care about that kind of thing.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 1, 2009 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409.aspx

Posted by: hpb on February 1, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a medal. I've figured out what the right is talking about.

http://inflationdata.com/inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.aspx?dsInflation_currentPage=6

From mid 1926 through 1933, the US experienced deflation. Everything was getting cheaper so if you had money, you were able to buy more and more with the money you had.

That pinko commie FDR with his ruinous pump priming caused inflation to rocket upward to levels comparable to the calamitous Reagan and Clinton terms.

When deflation is stopped, it makes depressions far, far WORSE for Republicans.

Capiche?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 1, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"why the Post's op-ed editors feel compelled to publish the same misguided piece from Shlaes, making the same misguided argument every month or so, "

Fred Hiatt is the editor.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 1, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.measuringworth.org

You can get interesting graphs there. Per capita real GDP is particularly interesting.

Posted by: Forrest on February 1, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing wrong with being an English Lit BA, except that history and economics are rigorous disciplines that require a sound grounding in fundamentals. Studying Faulkner's use of the subjunctive isn't much help in understanding the economic roots of the Depression, especially if your understanding of Keynes is based on a snarky article written by a Dartmouth undergrad.

As it is, I doubt Shlaes could even get into a first class grad program, but since she's chosen a career path in which George Will is thought to be a smart guy, it hardly matters.

As for the Post, Watergate was the aberration. It was and is a company town paper, inbred and provincial, like the town itself. On Inauguration Day ABC had Sally Quinn, holding forth on the homely values that illuminate their little town--Madam de Merteuil, as played by a cocktail waitress.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 1, 2009 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Arthur: The GDP grew by 6.5% in 1933, 7.2% in 1934, 8.3% in 1935, and 9.1% in 1936. Phenomenal rates.

According to Krugman, FDR's policies failed because FDR did not borrow and spend enough. You might want to relay your good news about the success of FDR's policies to him.

Gerald Weinand: And what must be noted - the economies for the next three plus generations rest on the foundation laid by the New Deal. The Triborough Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel are both PWA projects, as was the Hoover Dam which still provides electricity and water to southern California. Thousands of new schools and hospitals were built, and more were renovated and/or received additions. Miles of sewers and water lines were laid, and the Rural Electrification Admin brought electricity to millions that never had it. The CCC built thousands of recreation areas that became state and Fed parks - one is just 9 miles from where I live, and the recreation center in my town, built by the WPA, is still used every day.

Long-term infrastructure investment is likely to be valuable eventually. Not much of the "stimulus" package is long-term infrastructure investment, and long-term infrastructure investment is said not to be good for ending the present recession. Personally, I favor long-term investment in infrastructure, but there's no evidence it will work any better for us now than it did for the Japanese in their last recession.

Posted by: marketeer on February 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

The problem I have with this piece is Steve Benen gets his facts wrong, either out of laziness or something worse. There is no way this piece would survive independent fact checking. Amity Shlaes NEVER SAID that the "economy was fine" last summer, as Mr. Benen alleges. And anybody who takes the time to read her piece knows that. She, in fact, wrote that "serious trouble may be closer than we think."

So, if I may be frank, Mr. Benen's pieces is based on a lie. A lie easily discovered and made up in order to smear a woman who happens to be conservative in her views.

Posted by: Jose Chung on February 2, 2009 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's the Amity[ville] Shlaes horror, that's why! It keeps repeating itself, and repeating itself...

Posted by: Nancy Irving on February 2, 2009 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

ah, yes, its been a good couple of years or so since i wandered to this god-forsaken website. its definitely progress that Steve Benen and Hilzoy are writing here instead of Kevin Dumb, but I see the idiotic, robotic right-wing commentators are still thick as thieves here.

I wonder what it is about the WM that brings out the super-wingnuts? there are at least a dozen commenters here, all outraged, at the simple fact that Steve paraphrases Shales saying the economy was 'fine' (which was, of course, the point of her original column, stating that Gramm was correct and that there was no recession), and that is ALL they've got to go on. and even these mentally-challenged folk have got to realize that's nothing. after all these years, they just don't care. still! and no-one is even paying them to do this anymore! they're all just posting and posting away, for free, making terrible & discredited arguments. such waste.

Posted by: onceler on February 2, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

"According to Krugman, FDR's policies failed because FDR did not borrow and spend enough. You might want to relay your good news about the success of FDR's policies to him."

ROFLMAO.... So instead of conceding that you either lied in your first post or were really, really stupid, you come back and post something equally stupid? You're really a piece of work. Don't ever change; we can always use comedy around here.

Posted by: PaulB on February 2, 2009 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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