Harvard meets the crisis: U.S. fiscal policy in the 1930s and the political economy of Lauchlin B. Currie, Jacob Viner, John H. Williams and Harry D. White

Sebastiano Nerozzi, Michele Alacevich, Pier Francesco Asso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The paper discusses the interpretation of the Great Depression and the policy decision making by four Harvard economists: Lauchlin B. Currie, Jacob Viner, John H. Williams, and Harry D. White. All of them were eminent scholars in the field of monetary and international economics, and were deeply involved in policy decisions during the New Deal. We will discuss how their Harvard training provided them with a common methodological and analytical perspective, and how this common perspective translated into specific policies when they moved from the academia to public service in the U.S. administration. Their interpretation of the causes of the Great Depression and their policy proposals show the eclectic approach that these four economists had to monetary, fiscal, and economic analysis, and the points of contact with both the U.S. monetarist tradition and the work of Keynes. At the same time, this very eclecticism, far from making them part of the monetarist or the Keynesian schools, characterized them as a group of their own: a network of scholars who, by virtue of their studies and the evolution of their professional careers, developed a style of analysis and policy prescriptions that deeply influenced the nature of the New Deal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-410
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the History of Economic Thought
Volume2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Economic policy
  • Great Depression

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