Magazine article The New Yorker

Taking Stock of the Downturn

Magazine article The New Yorker

Taking Stock of the Downturn

Article excerpt

In the current economic malaise, looking back to similar times in the past is irresistible. In THE END OF GLOBALIZATION: LESSONS FROM THE GREAT DEPRESSION (Harvard), Harold James points out one of the more amusing side effects of downturns through history--the countervailing boom in articles about economic crises. His own thesis is less doom-laden than the title suggests, but he points out some telling parallels. The Great Depression ended a long period during which the nineteenth-century technologies of rail, steam, and telegraphy integrated the world's economies as never before. In the thirties, governments pursued protectionist trade policies and limited immigration. Now technological advances have once again led to global integration, but the situation is fragile, endangered by left-wing anti-globalists and right-wing nationalists.

Even if there is a crash, writes Maury Klein in RAINBOW'S END: THE CRASH OF 1929 (Oxford), that doesn't necessarily mean that we're in for another economic disaster. …

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