Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Return of the Great Depression

Return of the Great Depression by Vox Day

In case you were unaware, the financial/economic world has been going through a period of profound distress in the last 18 to 24 months. My two years of college with a series of general requirement classes did not include any economic classes. In the years since, the subject has always been one I never took the time to include in my attempts at expanding my knowledge base. In an effort to better understand these events, I have read all or part of several books related to this topic. Over a year ago while the TARP bailout was being debated, the stock market was falling and the country was throwing George W. Bush and his political cronies under the bus. I read some of Murray Rothbard's "America's Great Depression" with a group of people at Vox Popoli blog. Each week we would read a chapter, then take a quiz and discuss that weeks reading. The latter part of fall harvest and the holidays interfered with my plan to finish that book.

This spring I bought Thomas Wood's book, "Meltdown" and got it read just before planting started. I have Ron Paul's "End the Fed" laying in my stack of books to read.

Being a regular reader at Vox Popoli blog, when Vox announced that he was writing "Return of the Great Depression" I quickly acquired a copy as soon as it was available. Of course it came during harvest this fall, so I've just now completed reading it.

As I've already mentioned, until the last year I had very little knowledge of economics. "Return of the Great Depression" is a very effective tool for expanding one's knowledge base on this topic. The book addresses all of the various economic theories, while at the same time, pointing out some of the flaws/failures in those theories. It seemed to me that as an overview of economics, the book is useful in laying a groundwork upon which to do further study.

We've all heard of Keynes in the recent months, yet I did not understand the extent to which all of the economic actions taken by the government and the "Fed" have been influenced by Keynes in one way or another. I did not know anything about the monetarist theory nor the "Chicago School", even though I had heard of Milton Friedman. BTW, for those of you who still listen to Limbaugh, this is one reason he so despises Ron Paul and those who want to return to a gold standard. Limbaugh is a proponent of the Chicago School, and Friedman.

I had never heard of David Ricardo and his Vice. And I have long since concluded that the "Beast from the Sea" is an apt description of the fourth bank of North America. The subchapter on that topic includes an excellent short history of the "central bank" concept in the United States, leading to the obvious conclusion that we should rightfully "End the Fed".

The style of the book is different than I expected. Imagine listening in on a lecture in which the topic is the history of economics and finance. Since most effective speakers make the topic personal, the lecturer starts with an account of his own experience during the Japanese boom and it's following bust. The lecturer then begins to lay out the history of economic theories while at the same time interspersing comments and ideas on current events into the lecture. The conclusion of the lecture is a summation of the reasons to believe that we are about to experience a "Return of the Great Depression", This is followed by a list of six possible scenarios which will unfold either refuting or confirming that idea.

Vox concludes with a list of practical policies which would help, in the long term, to fix the coming distress. They are interesting, if almost completely impossible to see happening, since all of them require political and financial leaders with integrity and conviction who would be willing to do some serious amputation in order to save the patients life. Instead they will keep applying more leeches while promising another blood transfusion.

I can also say I never expected to see a poem in a book on economics, and I'm sure I did not understand it, but it certainly was different.

Get "Return of the Great Depression" for yourself. You will learn some facts about economic theory, you will certainly learn some history, and depending on which scenario you chose to accept, you can prepare for the economic future with a better understanding of the coming events.