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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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  455 Ratings  ·  45 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 Crown Forum (first published 2003)
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Kim
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Rod
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(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
Alan Marchant
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
David
Sep 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Andy Crooks
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great read. Stumbled on this in the library and could not put it down. Confirmed so many things that I have believed for decades. A must read for any public policy wonk.

Thank you Mr Powell, I suspect that you are the first of many to reconsider public policy during this period. At least I sure hope so.
Craig
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Lindsey Sparks
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-and-read
I hated FDR and thought he was our worst president before reading this book. Now I want to give a copy of this to every progressive I know. I appreciated that this was basically an economics book, not a history book. I knew a lot of the info going in but I still learned quite a bit, especially about out US economic policies under FDR hurt Europe and therefore may have helped exacerbate some of the issues that led to WWII.
It blows my mind that citizens let FDR steal gold from all citizens and out
...more
Charles Blumberg
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Chronicles the failures of FDR's progressive economic policies and how it extended the length of the Great Depression. Including
1) 90% of bank failures where in small rural areas that lobbied the gov't for unit banking laws that didn't allow multiple branches to open (to prevent large city banks from competing). Because the small rural banks were diversified they failed when the local economy failed.

2) Outlawed and confiscated private ownership of gold. This resulted in devaluing the dollar and
...more
Sharon
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This was such a good book, I'm going to purchase the actual book so I have it in addition to the audiobook. I wish it were required reading for all of those who have tendencies toward Keynesian economics and view government as the solution to everything. It took me a while to finish because I had several fiction reads in between, but it was well worth the time.
Charlie Donahue
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Robert Sparrenberger
There are two major themes going on in this book.

1. This author really doesn't like Roosevelt. He's decided to focus on the Great Depression to channel his anger. He uses this book to probably correct some of the high school history textbooks about how Roosevelt saved the country from the depression with his new deal. The author is probably right about some of his conclusions. The issue is that it is mind numbing at times. He goes into excruciating detail to prove his points at times.

2. The se
...more
Tim Jin
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Jun 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Tom Schulte
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Del
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good investigation of the true impact of FDR's massive expansion of the federal government, and what the impact on the nation really was. It's good to see author's finally taking target at the age old idea that we'd have never exited the Great Depression with FDR's brilliant moves. There is much evidence that the opposite is actually true and FDR's programs actually made things worse. Any student of the Invisible Hand concepts understands why. I enjoyed this a lot. Worth a read (or listen).

Lis
...more
Nilesh
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jay Foust
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Richard
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a very accessible history of FDR's New Deal. In a simple and comprehensive manner, it examines and compares what these various programs intended to accomplish and what the actual results were. Powell pays particular attention to this second aspect and how it has been repeatedly ignored by many historians who have tended to focus on the intentions of FDR and lieutenants.
It is certainly deserving of a five-star rating. Furthermore, I believe this book should be read by every American.
Scott
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Ja
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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...
Jim
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please update page count 3 101 Mar 14, 2016 09:09AM  
  • The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal
  • New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
  • The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II
  • A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II
  • Who Killed the Constitution?: The Assault on American Law and the Unmaking of a Nation
  • Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939
  • Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
  • The Failure of the New Economics
  • Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History
  • Democracy: The God That Failed
  • The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
  • A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960
  • Against Intellectual Property
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution
“It would be tragic if, in a future recession or depression, policymakers repeated the same mistakes of the New Deal because they knew only the political histories of the time.” 0 likes
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