Reflections on the Great Depression
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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.
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Chapter 9: Wassily Leontief

Randall E. Parker


Perhaps no other economist who was interviewed for this book made their reputation by specializing in one topic to the extent that Wassily Leontief did. He was one of the first economists to critique Keynes’s General Theory and is also considered the father of input-output analysis. The first attempt at an empirical implementation of input-output analysis began with the publication of his book The Structure o the US Economy 1919-1939. He continued to f focus his career on developing and refining this analytical tool. Its influence was worldwide and it was used as a device for central economic planning. His work earned him many honors including the French Legion of Honor in 1968, the Presidency of the American Economic Association in 1970, and the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1973, among others. In beginning the search for the leading economists who lived through the Great Depression, Leontief was first on my list, being born in 1905. The interview took place in September 1997 at his home in New York overlooking Washington Square and New York University, where he spent the latter part of his career. When the interview was over, he had to excuse himself so that he could grab a quick lunch in time to make a 2 p.m. lecture he was giving on input-output analysis at the age of 9 1. He passed away in February 1999. Can you give me some biographical information about when and where you were born and what you were doing during the...

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