Chapter 6: Charles Kindleberger
Charles Kindleberger was one of the first economists to emphasize the international nature of the origins of the Great Depression. Moreover, his influential book The World in Depression 1929-1939 provided some of the most ardent resistance to the validity of the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis. Focusing on the impact of the stock market crash in 1929, the international transmission of deflation through falling commodity prices and the subsequent debt deflation that these events precipitated, Kindleberger rejects the notion that the worldwide Depression was largely started in the US and propagated through failures of policy. Instead, what was bad was rendered far worse by the lack of international leadership in promoting any adequate remedy to the ravages of debt deflation. Professor Kindleberger had a rich career which focused on international economics in general and European economic history in particular. He was responsible for helping to train some of the best international economists of the last quarter of the twentieth century, such as Jagdish Bhagwati, Ronald Jones and the late Carlos F. Diaz-Alejandro. His many experiences during World War I1 put him at the forefront of the strategic decisions made during this time, as we shall see. I spoke with him at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts in August 1997. Professor, if you would, please state what you were doing during the Depression, and where you were born, where you got your Ph.D. and where you spent your career. I was born in New York City, as one of five children, four daughters and...
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