Thoughts from the Great Depression

“As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth — not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced — to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation’s economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.”

Eccles, Marriner S. 1951. Beckoning Frontiers: Public and Personal Recollections (New York: Alfred A. Knopf): p. 76

Eccles ran the Fed under Roosevelt

Some people who contributed to creating the preconditions for the Depression developed understood that their greatest contribution would be to get out of the way.

“In December 1932, “Calvin Coolidge spent an afternoon in idle talk with an old friend. “We are in a new era to which I do not belong,” he finally said, “and it would not be possible for me to adjust myself to it. These new ideas call from new men to develop them. That task is not for me who believe in the only kind of government that I know anything about”.” In another three weeks, Coolidge was dead.”

Schlesinger, Arthur. 1957. The Crisis of the Old Order, 1919-33 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin): p. 457, internally citing Stoddard, Henry Luther. 1938. It Costs to be President (New York: Harper & Brothers): p. 146.

1 comment so far

  1. jacob on

    need to know what people thought about the great depression not what it was

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