Turning Points in Business Cycles

By Leonard P. Ayres | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
PUMP PRIMING RECOVERIES

DURING the past seven years from 1933 through 1939 there has been in operation in this country a governmental plan for a managed recovery. The essence of the plan was that the government at Washington should assume responsibility for solving the economic problems of its citizens. The basic assumption on which the whole vast project rests is the theory that recovery from depression can be secured by increasing and spreading individual consumer purchasing power, and that the recovery so engendered will later on develop into a normal self-sustaining recovery.

Among the undertakings which were parts of this new policy were the support of the unemployed, vast programs of public works, mortgage loans for farmers and urban home owners, financial aid for railroads, banks, and other corporations, and the regulation of stock exchanges. There were two other undertakings that were even more sweeping in their purposes and applications. One of them undertook to make farming profitable by taxing the rest of the population to contribute to its support. The other sought to institute a program of higher wages and shorter hours throughout industry, with greatly increased power exercised by labor organizations.

During the first years the lavish spending which the plan entailed was not regarded with widespread apprehension. One of the fundamental assumptions behind the plan, and perhaps its most fundamental assumption, was that we could spend our way out of the depression. The theory was that lavish public spending would supply farmers and urban dwellers with consumer purchasing power which would result in a great demand for all sorts of con-

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