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 13: Concluding Remarks

Randall E. Parker


This book has endeavored to provide a record of the reflections on the Great Depression of a small sample of economists from the interwar generation. I hope it has succeeded in that endeavor. But more than this, I would also like for this book to be considered another chapter of the legacy of the interwar generation of economists and in some manner to be a small part of the many ways in which they will be remembered. The conversations show just how different the Great Depression was in our economic history. Assembling a complete understanding of the economics of the interwar era has been, and remains, a daunting task that is as yet unfinished. However, the economics profession has advanced a great deal in the almost 70 years since March 1933. It seems to me that the economics profession owes the economists of the interwar generation a large debt of gratitude for what they have done. The research that they have conducted has allowed our level of understanding to be where it is currently. This has been made possible by the very people interviewed for this book and their contemporaries. The interwar generation has passed the torch to a new generation to see if the puzzle of the Great Depression can have all of its pieces put together. ‘The next generation, the post-World War I1 generation of Bernanke, Calomiris, Eichengreen, Hamilton, and Romer, has pursued a research agenda that continues to produce advancements in our understanding. I will state with...

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