Symposium on the Great Depression

Staff: Amity Shlaes, Former Hayek Senior Fellow for Political Economy
March 30, 2009 - New York, NY

"History is an argument without end. That is why we love it so."

These words come from the late scholar of the New Deal, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Schlesinger in turn was quoting a colleague, the historian, Pieter Geyl. It is in Schlesinger's collegial spirit that the Council on Foreign Relations and NYU/Stern host scholars to discuss findings new and old about the single most important economic event in America's history, the Great Depression. What caused the Depression? What was the role of financial institutions in panic and recovery? What was the New Deal's role in this crisis? What lessons can we take away for dealing with our current crisis? Given the current challenges to the economy, a second look at that most relevant period becomes crucial. Nobel Prize winning economists, scholars, historians, writers, and policymakers will converge from across the country to both "get granular" and begin to draw broad conclusions in this day-long inquiry.

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Cosponsor of this symposium is Dean Thomas Cooley of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University.

The conference is also supported by a special grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

 

Symposium Summary Report (PDF, 160K)

Meetings

Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session One: The 1920s - Bubble, Growth, or Gold?

Introductory Speaker:

Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations

Panelists:

Michael Bordo, Professor of Economics and Director, Center for Monetary and Financial History, Rutgers University, Edward C. Prescott, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences; W. P. Carey Chair of Economics, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets, and Professor of Economics, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University

Presider:

Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session Two: The Role of Labor Policy

Panelists:

Price V. Fishback, Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economic History and Labor Economics, University of Arizona, Lee E. Ohanian, Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles, Peter Temin, Elisha Gray II Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richard K. Vedder, Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Economics, Ohio University

Presider:

John Tamny, Editor, Real Clear Markets
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session Three: Infrastructure Spending to Grow

Panelists:

Jeff Madrick, Director, Policy Research, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School, Ellen R. McGrattan, Monetary Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Nick Taylor, Author, American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, Anna J. Schwartz, Economist, National Bureau of Economic Research

Presider:

Simon Constable, Video Columnist, Dow Jones Newswires
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session Four: Keynote - Why a Second Look Matters

Speaker:

Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1995 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences; John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor Economics, University of Chicago

Presider:

Carl J. Schramm, President and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Roundtable Meeting

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session Five: The New Financial Deal

Panelists:

Charles W. Calomiris, Henry Kaufman Professor of Financial Institutions, Division of Finance and Economics, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, John H. Cochrane, Myron S. Scholes Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Thomas F. Cooley, Dean, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University, Charles Geisst, Professor of Finance, Manhattan College; Author, Wall Street: A History, Ingo Walter, Seymour Milstein Professor of Finance, Corporate Governance, and Ethics, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University

Presider:

Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Managing Editor, The Financial Times
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session Six: Today’s Path to Growth - What Do the 1930s Tell Us About Now?

Panelists:

Jonathan Alter, Senior Editor and Columnist, Newsweek, Harold Cole, Professor of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government and Business Relations, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin, Amity Shlaes, Senior Fellow for Economic History, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

James F. Hoge Jr., Peter G. Peterson Chair and Editor, Foreign Affairs
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

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