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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Sowell’

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So says Thomas Sowell:

There was a stock market crash in October 1929 and unemployment shot up to 9% — for one month. Then unemployment started drifting back down until it was 6.3% in June 1930, when the first major federal intervention took place. That was the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill, which more than a thousand economists across the country pleaded with Congress and President Hoover not to enact.

But then, as now, politicians decided they had to “do something.” Within 6 months, unemployment hit double digits. Then, as now, when “doing something” made things worse, many felt the answer was to do something more.

Both President Hoover and President Roosevelt did more—and more, and more. Unemployment remained in double digits for the entire remainder of the decade. Indeed, unemployment topped 20% and remained there for 35 months, stretching from the Hoover administration into the Roosevelt administration.

What about the track record of doing nothing?

For more than the first century and a half of this nation, that was essentially what the federal government did — nothing. None of the downturns in all that time ever lasted as long as the Great Depression. An economic downturn in 1920-21 sent unemployment up to 12%. President Warren Harding did nothing, except for cutting government spending. The economy quickly rebounded on its own.

In 1987, when the stock market declined more in one day than it had in any day in 1929, Ronald Reagan did nothing. There were outcries and outrage in the media. But Reagan still did nothing. That downturn not only rebounded, it was followed by 20 years of economic growth, marked by low inflation and low unemployment.

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