“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – President Herbert Hoover
The Hoover administration thought there was no room and was ideologically opposed to fiscal expansion to stimulate aggregate demand. Furthermore, Keynesian theory was not even developed at the time. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was not published until February 1936.
A policy error, partially due out of ignorance, that led to the Great Depression, though it was monetary policy and the Fed’s failure as “lender of last resort” that “put the Great in the Great Depression.”
…what happened is that [the Federal Reserve] followed policies which led to a decline in the quantity of money by a third. For every $100 in paper money, in deposits, in cash, in currency, in existence in 1929, by the time you got to 1933 there was only about $65, $66 left. And that extraordinary collapse in the banking system, with about a third of the banks failing from beginning to end, with millions of people having their savings essentially washed out, that decline was utterly unnecessary – Milton Friedman
Here is Ben Bernanke,
The problem within the Fed was largely doctrinal: Fed officials appeared to subscribe to Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s infamous ‘liquidationist’ thesis, that weeding out “weak” banks was a harsh but necessary prerequisite to the recovery of the banking system. Moreover, most of the failing banks were small banks (as opposed to what we would now call money-center banks) and not members of the Federal Reserve System. Thus the Fed saw no particular need to try to stem the panics. At the same time, the large banks – which would have intervened before the founding of the Fed – felt that protecting their smaller brethren was no longer their responsibility. Indeed, since the large banks felt confident that the Fed would protect them if necessary, the weeding out of small competitors was a positive good, from their point of view. – Ben Bernanke
06/29/1929 = 16,931,088,484.10 (16.8 % of GDP)
09/20/2017 = 20,179,769,858,967.22 (104.9 % of GDP)
Source: U.S. Treasury Department
How many generations can keep “kicking the can down the road”?
Have we finally bumped up against the upper bound of the debt limit? “This Time Is Different.”
Prepare for the “clash of generations.”
It has already started.
Ernest Hemingway “kicking the can the down the road” in Sun Valley, Idaho.