This book is about the most prominent economic explanations of the Great Depression and how the events of this period affected the lives, experiences, and subsequent thinking of the leading economists of the twentieth century who lived through that era. I confess, as Ben Bernanke does in his recent book Essays on the Great Depression, that I consides myself to be a Great Depression buff. It all goes back to my father. The stories and lessons in life he would teach me were all punctuated with what happened to him and his family during the Depression. As a young child, J was intrigued with the historical record and the adjectives my father used to describe the desperation so many people were living under. In my studies of economics as both an undergraduate and graduate student, my fascination with the largest slide in the history of the business cycle intensified. Macroeconomics has always been my area of concentration and I observed three things in particular regarding the economic literature of the Depression early in my career (the second half of the 1980s). First, an active and fruitful research agenda could be pursued in testing the validity of modern macro theories using interwar data, that is, scrutinizing the robustness and plausibility of contemporary theory viewed through the lens of history. There existed strands of the literature where modern macro theories were judged by how well they explained the Depression. I thought the combination of macroeconomics and economic history was an interesting line...
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