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The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  24 reviews
By the publisher of the prestigious Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, an account of the deep economic slump of 1920–21 that proposes, with respect to federal intervention, “less is more.” This is a free-market rejoinder to the Keynesian stimulus applied by Bush and Obama to the 2007–09 recession, in whose aftereffects, Grant asserts, the nation still toils.

James Grant tells
ebook, 272 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Simon Schuster (first published 2014)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  198 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Naomi Young
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Econ geeks and history fans
Shelves: 2015, aclib, kindle
This book can, I guess, count toward my resolution to read some more substantial works this year. But I can't say that I remember enough of my high school Economics class, nor yet the technical information from my Business Reference class, to critique the argument Grant puts forward that The Invisible Hand of the Market will right all things if in no way restricted.

However, I did enjoy some of the extremely forceful language and disputation by the political figures in this book. We talk about t
Patrick Peterson
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians, economists, policy wonks
Recommended to Patrick by: many folks
Liked it, did not love it.
Lots of promise, lots of good details, but not quite what I was hoping for.
Here is my review:

Fredrick Danysh
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Following World War I and before the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression of 1929 there was a smaller depression that corrected itself. The Forgotten Depression looks into the cause, effects of, and results of this fairly forgotten period of economic decline. An informative history read.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A very thorough treatment of how the Federal Reserve got started. Includes some interesting history behind Wilson, Harding & Coolidge. The biggest takeaway is that the economy pretty much corrected itself without much government intervention - which supports the belief that the Great Depression would have ended earlier without FDRs multiple levels of interference.
Fred Kohn
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
In a back cover endorsement, Richard Norton Smith writes, "You don't have to agree with Grant's economics to admire the rigor of his thought, the grace of his prose, or the sweep of his argument …" This is all exactly right. I certainly don't agree with Grant's economics. If this were the only book you were to read on the period, you would come away thinking Warren G. Harding was one of our greatest Presidents and the only thing Woodrow Wilson did right was to have a stroke. Nevertheless, the bo ...more
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jim Grant takes the position that the 1921 U.S. Depression was short-lived primarily because leaders at the relatively new Federal Reserve, and most political leaders of the day, were committed to fiscal rectitude and non-intervention in the economy. He does so in a very well organized and well written book that is filled with quotes and citations to primary sources such as meeting notes, speeches, correspondence and editorials. Though the book is very readable, it helps if the reader has some u ...more
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
By Edward Chancellor

“The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more lending and more spending.” This post-crisis advice from Larry Summers - a former U.S. Treasury secretary, presidential economic advisor and president of Harvard - represents the conventional wisdom of the economic policymaking elite. This is the same elite, you may recall, that failed to see the g
Duane Heeringa
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Duane by: Article in Atlantic??
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Ermer
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. I read this book after reading a review in the WSJ and a Robert Samuelson column. It is 180 degrees opposite from the Keynesian macroeconomics that I learned in college, and a lot of it makes sense when you place it in the context of the Great Recession. It's not a long book. Read it.
Stephen P
I would have given this book 5 Stars for the history of the 1920-21 economic depression. However, in the preface the author makes the case that if the same government monetary and fiscal policies were implemented for the 2008 Great Recession, the economic recovery would have been faster and more robust. Unfortunately, his arguments seemed very simplistic and not fully thought through. To follow this thought would require changing to major historical events: 1) a return to the gold standard and 2 ...more
Mark Pasquini
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How an economic downturn should be handled. Drop taxes, cut gov't spending and the Fed sitting on its hands. A depression with inflation and deflation being cured in 18 months. No Keynes and heavy-handed government interference. What would have happened if the progressives Hoover and FDR had followed this blueprint, we will never know, but it would be interesting and, possibly, far less tragic. Recommended.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Grant provided evidence including quotes of officials from conferences, articles describing the situation, and economic and industry statistics. I believe he has sufficient evidence to support his overall conclusion.

Although, it was a bit of a dry read. I wouldn't recommend unless you enjoy business history, because not even economics is a good classification because it doesn't talk much about economic theory.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read!
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
More like 2.5 stars - I kind of liked the book for its historical value in highlighting a depression rarely discussed or highlighted (at least to the degree of the Great Depression). The crux of his thesis seems to be a laissez-faire economic policy during rough economic times and that letting prices deflate and naturally take their course will help the economy recover. I guess my simple view is that theory probably wouldn't work in reality due to the sheer size of our credit books (both govt an ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author makes a convincing case that the economic downturn of 1920-21 was a severe depression, contrary to the arguments of some contemporary Keynesian economists. Once that question is settled, the Keynesians have a big problem, because it's undisputed that the American economy recovered briskly in 1922, despite the complete absence of government intervention. The author devotes some ink to related arguments: the gold standard was superior to central bank management, and Herbert Hoover preve ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, history
Grant makes the argument that allowing the boom/bust cycle to work shortened depressions and allows for a rapid recovery, although at the cost of a harsh period of bust. He points are well supported given the limited amount of hard data available. Interesting reading.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not a book many would enjoy unless you are interested in economics and the impact of Federal Reserve and government policy. Grant is clearly very bright - I did enjoy it more than I should. It'd be 2.5 stars if I could figure out how to add the 1/2.
May 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish this dry read that relies more on direct quoting from a century ago than actual writing.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
"There's hope for the Planet when even free-marketers start to recycle their own garbage."

My full review here:
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a bit of new info for me did not realize this
Andre Cordeiro
Feb 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca
Life is too short to finish an awfully written book.
rated it it was amazing
Nov 18, 2014
Keith Wheeles
rated it it was ok
Mar 18, 2019
Kean Chan
rated it liked it
May 20, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2015
Patrick Quealy
rated it liked it
Feb 23, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2016
Richard Hoffbeck
rated it did not like it
Dec 10, 2015
Seb Morane
rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2016
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