I’m down in DC attending the Thinking Big Forward Conference on the economy. The second speaker was Alan Brinkley, who summed up the history of the New Deal, it’s successes and failures. Perhaps of most interest was his list of the first things Roosevelt did:
1) Bank Holiday (shut them down briefly)
2) Send in the Auditors
3) Creation of the FDIC to guarantee bank deposits and stop bank runs
4) A very large works program (jobs, not handouts)
But also of interest was that Brinkely doesn’t seem to think that keeping prices up was a good idea. I may misunderstand him, since it was said as a side remark when discussing how the early Roosevelt government encouraged cartels, but it’s still an interesting point. In deflation keeping both prices and wages up is one approach (and one I favor) and the other is to start slashing wages and prices.
Perhaps of most interest, he was asked if the stimulus bill was big enough, his answer was equivocal–that it’s bigger than anything the New Deal did, but not structured very well, and not as big as he would like.