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The Great Depression
Lessons from the 1930s
Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses—and Misuses—of History. By Barry Eichengreen. Oxford University Press; 512 pages; $29.95. Buy from Amazon.com
ECONOMISTS usually work with large samples of data, so they are in a bind when it comes to depressions: there simply haven’t been enough to yield predictable patterns. When the world stood on the precipice in 2008, its leaders had only the 1930s as a template.
Today they congratulate themselves on having avoided another Great Depression. Were they right to? Barry Eichengreen argues no. Their reading of the 1930s, he writes, is incomplete, often erroneous and has led them to settle for weak or no growth and for too-timid reform of their financial systems.
Mr Eichengreen, of the University of California, Berkeley, recreates the last century’s two great episodes of …
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