Reflections on the Great Depression

Reflections on the Great Depression

Randall E. Parker

This book explores the most prominent economic explanations of the Great Depression and how it affected the lives, experiences, and subsequent thinking of economists who lived through that era. Presented in interview format, this collection of conversations with Moses Abramovitz, Morris Adelman, Milton Friedman, Albert Hart, Charles Kindleberger, Wassily Leontief, Paul Samuelson, Anna Schwartz, James Tobin, Herbert Stein and Victor Zarnowitz provides a record of their reflections on the economics of the Great Depression and on the major events which occurred during those critical years. This volume is also another chapter in the legacy of the interwar generation of economists and is intended as a token of gratitude for the contributions they have made to the economics profession. Randall Parker has given us a window into the lives of these gifted scholars and an important glimpse into the world that shaped them.

Chapter 12: Victor Zarnowitz

Randall E. Parker

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


If Paul Samuelson is the “Father of Modern Economics,” then Victor Zarnowitz easily holds the title of “Mr Business Cycle.” In the recent book Business Cycles and Depressions: An Encyclopedia, Victor Zarnowitz is the author of the chapter that surveys the field of business cycle research, Q.E.D. No other economist in recent times has done more to sharpen and deepen our understanding of the character of economic fluctuations than Victor Zarnow itz. Professor Zarnowitz received his Ph.D., s u m i a cum laude, from the University of Heidelberg in 1952. He has been a researcher for the NBER, was a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago from 1959 to 1989, is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and currently is a Senior Fellow at The Conference Board. We spoke in New York in December 1997. 1 went into the interview pretty much like I did all the others. Professor Zarnowitz indicated he enjoyed the time we spent together and thanked me for being well prepared. I left his office feeling “blown away,” if you’ll forgive the colloquial term. I’m humbled every time I read the interview that follows. The world would be worse off without Victor Zarnowitz and thinking of him reminds me to be thankful for the many blessings that have been given to me and my family. Would you please give us a brief rundown of when and where you were born and what you were doing during the Great Depression? I was...

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