Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy

Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy

Business Cycles in the Progressive Era and New Deal

Donald R. Stabile and Andrew F. Kozak

Markets, Planning and the Moral Economy examines the rise of the Progressive movement in the United States during the early decades of the 20th century, particularly the trend toward increased government intervention in the market system that culminated in the establishment of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programmes. The authors consult writings from politicians, business leaders, and economists of the time, using a variety of historical perspectives to illuminate the conflicting viewpoints that arose as the country struggled to recover from the worst economic downturn in its history.

Bibliography

Donald R. Stabile and Andrew F. Kozak

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought

Extract

The New Deal was ended by the time the US entered World War II, but its legacy remains with us. As George Soule so aptly put it, the programmes of the New Deal ‘have been assimilated into the background; they are beginning to be taken for granted even by many of their traditional opponents’ (Soule 1939, p. 2). History has proved the aptness of Soule’s statement. Aside from the NIRA, the social programmes we have discussed in this book, the NLRA, the FLSA, unemployment insurance as part of the Social Security Act, regulation of business and Keynesian fiscal policy remain in place as unassailable policies along with a host of other programmes we have not discussed such as the Federal Housing Administration, the social security pension system and federal welfare assistance. Advocates for the market economy may well lament that they can never get rid of Roosevelt’s system. There is one aspect of the New Deal that they may not lament: the US does not have a system of national planning as was proposed by many whom we have called proponents of the moral economy. Soule may represent those proponents in his prediction that the government would soon have to take over the railroads and use fiscal policy to build factories. In this way, government ownership of industry, or at least a part of it, would enable the government policies for stimulating the economy to be more effective (Soule 1939, pp. 89–90).