Some unconventional reflections on the Great Depression and the New Deal

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Some unconventional reflections on the Great Depression and the New Deal

By F. William Engdahl


It was fortunate for the historical legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that the initial military success of the Third Reich in Europe in 1939-1940, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 took attention away from his record in dealing with America’s Great Depression. Had Roosevelt not ended his Presidency as a victorious war President, he would instead be remembered as the President whose policies all but ruined the inherent economic vitality of the American economy for decades after.

A retrospective examination of the economic policies of Roosevelt's New Deal from March 1933 to onset of World War II in late 1941, reveals extraordinary failure and incompetence viewed from the perspective of whether they succeeded in restoring healthy real growth and robust employment to the economy. So blatant was the failure of these policies, over such a period of years, the question must be asked whether in fact a policy other than fostering normal recovery was priority.

The economic developments in the American economy in the period from early 1933 until outbreak of war in December 1941, were profoundly important for the developments of the following decades. The analysis of that economic period is more complex because of the prevailing mythology, and de facto romanticism by many economic historians of what was accomplished by the Roosevelt New Deal. Most prominent historians of the New Deal were themselves adherents of the New Deal ideology such as Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. or Erik Goldman, John K. Galbraith and others. The postwar era led to apparently short memories among many, and the thorough discrediting of the Herbert Hoover Presidency by the New Deal Democrats had placed advocates of a more balanced understanding of the economics of the New Deal on the defensive, until at least the late 1980's.

1. The author of this passage believes that

a. Roosevelt’s economic policies during the Great Depression were a cause of WWII.

b. FDR does not get the credit he deserves for his handling of the Depression because people focus on his war policies.

c. FDR’s economic policies during the Depression created an economy that could successfully wage war on the Third Reich.

d. FDR’s economic policies during the Depression were disastrous but his we don’t recognize that because of his success in WWII.

e. FDR’s policies would have ended the Great Depression if not for the initial military success of Germany.

2. In paragraph 2 the author hints that

a. FDR was more concerned with winning WWII than he was with ending the Depression

b. FDR did not want the economy to return to its prior condition

c. FDR was misled by his economic advisors

d. FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to be attacked in order to stimulate the economy

e. The New Deal would have succeeded if not for the onset of WWII

3. In paragraph 3, the author argues that

a. Historians have been unfair to FDR

b. Historians have been too kind to FDR because they had grown up during the Depression

c. Historians have been too kind to FDR because they agreed with his ideology

d. More recent historians have been kinder to FDR than those that grew up during the Depression

e. Hoover’s policies were actually quite similar to FDR’s

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