Thursday, February 12, 2009

FDR first to take oath...

Just picked up Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s FDR biography, and lo-and-behold, he starts with FDR's swearing in. Apparently, before FDR, President's would just say "I do", but FDR memorized it ahead of time and was thus the first to repeat the entire oath instead... (makes Obama look overly cautious for doing it twice...)

As for FDR, the Great Depression, and being overly cautious, I think a consensus has developed among historians and economists that the reason the New Deal did not completely cure the Great Depression was that FDR was overly cautious. Of course, he tried many bold things, but he would always take care not to run up the deficit too much, and would also include tax increases. So while the economy did much better under FDR than under Hoover, FDR never quite solved the crisis because he was just too damned cautious.

Is history repeating itself?

1 comment:

  1. First of all, I've become a lot more skeptical about received wisdom in economics of all types, whether it be Keynesian stimulus or rational-expectations DSGE models - the current episode shows just how many assumptions econ theorizing has made. Good times allowed economists to skate around them, but now we're seeing how they matter. I agree with the liberal consensus on FDR, not because I strongly believe in the theory, but for reasons similar to Warren Buffett. Can that experience be applied today, well, I think there are some obvious differences that would reduce the effectiveness of a stimulus (the USA today has plenty of infrastructure, plenty of debt, and isn't going to be a world hyperpower for the next 50 years)...