FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression
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FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  278 ratings  ·  39 reviews
“Admirers of FDR credit his New Deal with restoring the American economy after the disastrous contraction of 1929—33. Truth to tell–as Powell demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt–the New Deal hampered recovery from the contraction, prolonged and added to unemployment, and set the stage for ever more intrusive and costly government. Powell’s analysis is thoroughly docum...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2003)
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Kim
As it happens, I agree with Mr. Powell's overall premise that FDR's policies did indeed prolong the Great Depression and has had far reaching negative economic consequences. However, I find his review lacks perspective and ignores important influences of the era.

For example, Mr. Powell views the socialist undertones of the FDR era through the 20/20 lense of hindsight. Those wacky FDR folks should have known better. Socialism became such a strong political force throughout the world because it wa...more
Teechbiz
This book is like a college course except for the fact the professor doesn't worship at the altar of FDR. You will be amazed to learn of the practices and laws designed to keep us deeply entrenched in a depression in which millions went to bed without food while farmers were forced BY LAW to destroy food. So much more. You will never look at FDR the same way again.
Elyse
I'm giving this book 5 stars because even though some parts were eyes-glazed-over boring (especially the chapter on labor unions) the information is breath-taking. Powell's lessons about unintended consequences and the dangers of government restrictions on economic liberties are powerful. And his more subtle lesson about the importance of judging policy outcomes and not intentions is ever more crucial.

Each chapter title is a question, such as "Why did the Supreme Court strike down early New Deal...more
Kimberly
Ok, so this happened to be part of the reading for my econ class, but it might have been a book I would have picked up and read regardless. I've never really had any formed opinion about FDR and the new deal, but most high school history books are in favor of everything he did. This book is AMAZING in that it breaks down every single policy and mistake that he and his administration did which ultimately prolonged the Great Depression. Powell is very vocal and VERY biased against FDR (obvi) but h...more
Alan Marchant
The Raw Deal

If recent event's hadn't made the New Deal such a deadly serious topic, I would have suggested that Jim Powell's book should have been titled "the FDR Follies." The book addresses the depressingly perverse effects of Roosevelt's policies with understated good humor. But with the current government doing its best to resurrect every wrong-headed appeal of the New Deal, one can only hope that people will give the most serious attention to the economic history of the Great Depression.

FDR...more
Rod
(Virtually) everything you've been told about FDR and the New Deal by the media and mainstream historians isn't true. Read this book for the actual story about how Roosevelt and the New Deal prolonged the Depression by nearly a decade and may have contributed to the rise if fascism abroad (and, to some degree, in the US).

A might-have-been: The US experienced a depression in 1920, but the government keep its hands off the financial controls and the economy soon recovered. The Depression that star...more
David
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Every single movie cast during the Depression claims that everything was better when FDR came along because somebody finally cared. Even educated liberals today firmly believe that he helped us get through the Great Depression…which to me is like saying that Adolph Hitler really helped the Jews. This book describes his socialist/communist agenda using numerous examples. People were hungry throughout our nation, and Roosevelt was using tax dollars to pay farmers to...more
Andy
Seemed an appropriate book to read with everyone comparing the President Elect to FDR. Does a fabulous job of explaining exactly what the title says: FDR didn't fix the Great Depression, he caused the uncertainty, fear, and financial disasters that turned a major downturn into the Great Depression. Powell explains in great detail (too much, that's why I rated 4 stars - TOO DRY) how the chaotic, disorganized, and people (not policy) driven decision style of FDR, and his authoritarian style and pr...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Charlie Donahue
This really was a phenomenal book. It was very thoroughly researched, evident from the 46 page bibliography afterwards. Powell broke down the effect the Roosevelt administration had on the economy into individual chunks, showing us the guesses that FDR's administration was making, the lack of efficiency the administration really had that is often glossed over, and how it did more harm than good in many different fields. From FDR's ban on the private owning of gold to his weighted funding to the...more
Craig
This book is a powerful indictment of the numerous failed policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration during the great economic depression of the 1930s. While many historians credit FDR for pulling the country through the depression, in fact his policies prolonged and exacerbated it. No other American economic downturn ever lasted more than 2 or 3 years. FDR's policies elongated the downturn for 9 nears, and the country has never fully recovered from many of his ill-conceived, freed...more
Tim Jin
Over the years I've learned a lot about the Great Depression, but I never read anything about FDR's bloopers and how he caused the economic fall. In our textbooks, the former President is a great man with a disability and Commander of Chief during WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor, but he started the downhill spiral of the country.

FDR ran the country like he was the Godfather of the mafia.

Taxes, more regulations and programs like Social Security were some of his doings. Although these action...more
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting Quote:

"A government will best promote a speedy business recovery by making recovery the top priority, which means letting people keep more of their money, removing obstacles to productive enterprise, and providing stable money and a political climate where investors feel that it's safe to invest for the future."

-Jim Powell, FDR's Folly


"The Great Depression was a government failure, brought about principally by Federal Reserve policies...Hoover's tariffs...Hoover's taxes...and Hoover...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating and detail account taking apart FDR's New Deal and exposing it weaknesses. Some things I learned here new to me were that unit banking laws in American versus the branch banking laws in Canada (more like current laws) may have been one reason why the Depression was longer and worse in the U.S. than right across the border in Canada. Also, the Depression was much longer than I knew: 17% average unemployment for most of a decaded with no year below 14% during that time. The b...more
Amanda
Interesting take on FDR's New Deal policies and one that doesn't really get a lot of play in your basic history book. Certainly the level of taxes imposed during the period is shocking, but it comes down to who you think should control the decisions about our money? Should we trust the government to spend in a thoughtful way or should we trust capitalistic business enterprises to continue to reinvest in their products and people? Not a clear answer to put forward here, but certainly a timely rea...more
Jay Foust
This is not the same story that I remember from my high school history books. I never thought FDR was a great president and it turns out I was right. There are a lot of reasons why Congress voted to limit a president to two terms after FDR died and you read all about them in this book. I think Powell did an excellent job detailing FDR used his office and influence to fundamentally change the way the federal government operated and it was not for the better. I think we can trace many of our curre...more
Nilesh
The book is brilliant from historical viewpoint. Gives a good account of how the depression was dealt by the FDR administration. It clearly shows where the gensis of many policies found globally even today is. Yet, the book is dry, too detailed most of the times and not balanced. The last point is most important. Not to see a single positive in someone who got elected four times is jarring. It does not explain ho the entire nation got fooled, if that was so clearly the case as per the account pr...more
Scott
I wish the author had gone with a deceptive title so there would be a chance that more people would read it. This should be part of every economic history or comparative economics class. With the chosen title there's no way that any democrat, "progressive",or self defined "open minded independent" will come near it. Sad, because those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Oh wait, we are.
Jim
I didn't agree with everything in here, but I thought the author made a good case that the actual impacts of the New Deal were more negative than positive, quite the opposite of the conventional wisdom. He provides a lot of details into some of the more questionable practices of the New Deal that never made it into my high school history book, like the seizure of all the country's gold bullion.
Jeff Raymond
Of the many great books about the New Deal and of government malfeasance in the 20th century, this is probably the most informative but the least readable. I’d still hand people The Forgotten Man or The New Dealer’s War before this, but this book still kept me appropriately angry about the current state of things.
Ja
Jim Powell has succinctly proven the case why government is not the answer but the problem. It's strength speaks for itself. Well done. The demagogue FDR is exposed as all others must be to prevent the tyrrany of good intentions. At least, we can hope that some of the New Dealers had good intentions...
Jason
Apr 11, 2009 Jason added it
Don't read books about economic matters written by journalists. Aww, the CATO Institute, so unbiased...A Republican wrapped in a Libertarian's cloak who wants to smoke dope and get laid...There is better literature out there, don't waste your time with this tool like I did.
Steve
Good book. Saturated with data on the effects of FDR's policies. The facts speak for themselves. I am amazed at some of the things he tried, practically all of which screwed up the economy even worse. The book was a little dry, but full of useful information.
Terry
This is a very tedious read. The powerful point is that FDR cost this country a great deal through his "government solutions" to the depression, probably extending it by 5 years. History is repeating itself today with the same failed policies!
AmblingBooks
"The next time economic cataclysm looms, leaders should read Jim Powell's book." � National Review

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