Chapter 7: Anna Schwartz
In terms of written research, Anna Schwartz has been the point person deflecting criticism and defending the validity of the monetary hypothesis of the Depression. As co-author with Milton Friedman ofA Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, Schwartz has steadfastly attempted to refute (some would say attack) any and all theories proposed to supplant the monetary hypothesis as the leading explanation of the Depression. In particular, Peter Ternin’s 1976 book Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression? dismissed the role of money and instead claimed the Depression was caused by a decline in autonomous consumption. This set off an exchange between Temin and Schwartz with which any student of the literature on the Depression is well familiar. I had a few questions on this matter that I felt compelled to ask. Additionally, of all the interviews conducted, Anna Schwartz possessed the most extensive knowledge of the literature on the Great Depression and the questions I asked her in this regard are the most detailed and academically oriented. We spoke at her office at the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York in December 1997. When and where were you born and what were you doing during the Great Depress ion? I was born in New York. I was at Barnard College between 193 1 and 1934. Before that I was in school. I guess I didn’t really study the Great Depression until I got to graduate school at Columbia. But my views were transformed when I began working...
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