He Said That? 8/27/15

From Murray Rothbard, American economist, from an article, “Reliving the Crash of ’29,” first published in Inquiry, November 12, 1979:

But there is another vital and very different problem. Given the crash, why did the recovery take so long? Usually, when a crash or financial panic strikes, the economic and financial depression, be it slight or severe, is over in a few months or a year or two at the most. After that, economic recovery will have arrived. The crucial difference between earlier depressions and that of 1929 was that the 1929 crash became chronic and seemed permanent.

What is seldom realized is that depressions, despite their evident hardship on so many, perform an important corrective function. They serve to eliminate the distortions introduced into the economy by an inflationary boom. When the boom is over, the many distortions that have entered the system become clear: prices and wage rates have been driven too high, and much unsound investment has taken place, particularly in capital-goods industries.

The recession or depression serves to lower the swollen prices and to liquidate the unsound and uneconomic investments; it directs resources into those areas and industries that will most-effectively serve consumer demands — and were not allowed to do so during the artificial boom. Workers previously misdirected into uneconomic production, unstable at best, will, as the economy corrects itself, end up in more secure and productive employment.

The recession must be allowed to perform its work of liquidation and restoration as quickly as possible, so that the economy can be allowed to recover from boom and depression and get back to a healthy footing. Before 1929, this hands-off policy was precisely what all US governments had followed, and hence depressions, however sharp, would disappear after a year or so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.