Eric Hobsbawm

“Economists who
simply advised leaving the economy alone, governments whose first
instincts, apart from protecting the gold standard by deflationary policies,
was to stick to financial orthodoxy, balance budgets and cut costs, were
visibly not making the situation better. Indeed, as the depression continued,
it was argued with considerable force not least by J.M. Keynes who
consequently became the most influential economist of the next forty
years - that they were making the depression worse. Those of us who
lived through the years of the Great Slump still find it almost impossible
to understand how the orthodoxies of the pure free market, then so
obviously discredited, once again came to preside over a global period of
depression in the late 1980s and 1990s, which, once again, they were
equally unable to understand or to deal with. Still, this strange phenomenon
should remind us of the major characteristic of history which it
exemplifies: the incredible shortness of memory of both the theorists and
practitioners of economics. It also provides a vivid illustration of society's
need for historians, who are the professional remembrancers of what their
fellow-citizens wish to forget.”

Eric J. Hobsbawm
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