Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brad DeLong had Hoover on the brain yesterday

He has more thoughts here, here, here, here, and here.

All very interesting stuff.

While I agree with Brad's assessments, I have to confess I sympathize with Hoover. He seems like such a good guy. He's kind of like George W. Bush in a lot of ways. I think I'd really enjoy the guy, but it's too bad he was ever president. He wasn't an ideologue, and there's something to be said for his philosophy of associationalism. But since it grew out of the soil of conservative Republicanism it was fairly inflexible, at least in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

I have another short piece (a comment, in response to an article) currently under review at the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics that actually defends Hoover's wage conferences. Unfortunately, the strongest defense I can offer is "while this wasn't a great idea, the evidence suggests it didn't have enough of an effect to do any harm". There were other more serious theoretical and methodological problems with the paper I'm commenting on that form the bulk of what I wrote.


  1. That's not surprising DeLong had him on the brain. Hoover is a well-worn bogeyman of the American left.

    Anyway, the only way you can fault Hoover is if you think that government spending are something useful for governments to do in times of economic downturns.

    Now the tax increases were dumb as was his support of Smoot-Hawley, but tax increases and trade restrictions are bread and butter for American liberals and the American left.

    Anyway, I only got through link number two and then stopped. Who actually thinks that the AAA was a good idea? Do you think it was a good idea to artificially inflate the price of food during the middle of the Great Depression? The whole point being to supposedly benefit a class of farmers (tenant farmers) who were on their way into oblivion anyway? Indeed, all the act really did (in its short lifespan) was benefit wealthy farmers - it didn't stop the collapse of tenant farming in the U.S.

    So yeah, Hoover was right, the AAA was a stupid idea; it was based on the thought running rampant at the time that city slickers were taking advantage of farmers, and that city people needed to pay more money for their food so as to balance out city and country people - and the federal government was going to do that via a centralized planning mechanism. How stupid is that?

  2. And the AAA illustrates just how right Hayek was - the use of government to punish groups of people (city dwellers) so as to benefit others (farmers). The state when it is used this way is a divisive regime.


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