The Great Depression Will Not Help Us Solve the COVID-19 Downturn

The Stories of Past Economic Crises Are Nuanced, Complex, Messy, and Don’t Point to an Obvious Path Forward

Unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s have prompted journalists and pundits in the U.S. to look back to previous eras—particularly the Great Depression—for lessons on how to escape the current economic crisis. What are the main lessons that historians and economists have learned from previous recessions, and how might they be applied by policymakers in the time of COVID-19? Unfortunately, there are few straightforward answers. Previous economic eras, when understood with all of their nuance, complexity, messiness, and ambiguity, do not point to an obvious path ahead.

As a …

Herbert Hoover’s Hidden Economic Acumen

What an Awful President's Secret Strength Could Teach Today's Financial Leaders About Capitalism

From our nation’s inception, Americans have been a forward-looking people— youthful, optimistic, even revolutionary. Progress has been our byword, and the past has often been dismissed as stodgy, if not …