The 1920s were a decade to admire

  • Article by: AMITY SHLAES , Bloomberg News
  • Updated: October 25, 2012 - 7:00 PM

President Obama needs to revisit the history.

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cstoney48Oct. 25, 12 7:44 PM

Frederick Lewis Allen described the legacy of the 1920s best: "Prosperity is more than an economic condition, it is a state of mind...With the Big Bull market gone and prosperity going, Americans were soon to find themselves living in an altered world which called for new adjustments, new ideas, new habits of thought and a new order of values." We live in such a world today with an ongoing revolution in technology and an exploding global network/market requiring new skills and cultural inclusion. The 1950s are dead forever. Time to move on...That's what the 1920s taught us.

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reno123Oct. 25, 12 8:57 PM

The roaring twenties followed by a worldwide depression that stoked fascism and another world war. Good times indeed.

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gimbelOct. 25, 12 9:47 PM

Oh come on Amity! The unregulated financial markets of the 1920s paved the way for the horrible depression beginning in 1929. Similarly, the deregulated markets of the decade preceding 2008 set the stage for the Second Great Republican Depression. Obama knows his history as well as you do....better in fact, because he dosen't put the old libertarian spin on what led us into a really, really bad depression. Repeating the policies of the 1920s??? NOBODY thinks that would be a good idea.

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jstanthrnbrOct. 25, 12 9:58 PM

What blew the "roaring twenties" trajectory was a nation thinking of the government as their "sugar daddy". All policy to follow just handed more and more power over to a central planning unit called the federal government. Keep doubling down on this mentality and you will see quickly that we are not all that different from Greece.

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davidto46Oct. 25, 1210:55 PM

The stock market crash did not cause the Great Depression, but it announced it. The bank failures that followed and the collapse of credit were some of the primary causes. A ten percent drop in consumer spending, sixty percent drop in crop prices and structural weaknesses in the economy that had been masked by the boom times were others. Over investment and malfeasance by bankers and industrialists as well as tight monetary policies set the stage for the depression that followed. When the "sugar daddy" referred to in the comment above began handing out new government programs in the New Deal, the economy began to recover. But then the depression was made far worse by the actions of the federal government designed to cut spending and reduce the federal budget. The conservatives of the time immediately called for a return to balanced budget when conditions began to improve. FDR obliged and the 1937 recession was the result. The economy did not fully recover until the massive government spending generated by World War II began. By the way, businessmen at the time ignored the growth of the federal debt. They were happy to have a growing economy again. The negative impact of the Great Depression on our citizens was magnified by the almost total lack of a safety net. So yes, the 1920's were great - if you were part of the one percent. Sound familiar?

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hobie2Oct. 25, 1211:14 PM

"What blew the "roaring twenties" trajectory was a nation thinking of the government as their "sugar daddy".".. oddly enough, some people actually thought that it was a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and as the government of the people they went to help the people... Foolish liberals, according to the GOP -- who think government should be of the wealthy, run by the wealthy, and for the wealthy... And what have we become in our three decades of the great conservative turn? A government of the people, or a government of the wealth?... And as to liberal foolishness -- It looks a lot more like the wealthy think of the government as their "sugar daddy" than the average man on the street thinks of the government as their "sugar daddy"... We the people have been sold a pile, and it's time we woke up and took back our government.

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arielbenderOct. 25, 1211:50 PM

Good Lord, these people just want to stop any progress whatsoever.... it's beyond sad. Always move forward, never look back.

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northhillOct. 26, 12 6:49 AM

America turned its back on the rest of the world and stuck its head in the sand.Prohibition was a disaster.Organized Crime flourished because of it.America spent little on national defense.Our Army was less than 200,000 men;The US Navy built only two aircraft carriers and one heavy cruiser the entire decade.Japan at the same time was expanding her Navy.We did not join the League of Nations after World War I.President Coolidge said the business of America is business.Sounds like Mitt Romney.The administrations of Warren Harding,Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover failed America.FDR was given the shovel to clean up the Republican mess.America repealed Prohibition.Prohibition was America's first attempt at sharia law but by no means the last.Ms Shales,I do not want to return to the 1920's.Isolationism didn't work,unregulated capitalism doesn't either.The stock market crash and the attack on Pearl Harbor should have brought an end to pining for the 1920's.We live in a small world and a global economy.The Republicans of the 1920's ignored this,so does Mitt Romney.

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vlombardyOct. 26, 12 7:51 AM

A successful economy depends on demand equaling supply. When you have 1% of the population with 43% of the spending money, and the next 9% with another 50% of it, there is insufficient demand for the supply of goods that would support an economy. Add to this the fact that a handful of banks, who own 60% of the banking assets in the country, have bet 20 times the value of our economy in the derivatives casino. You're left with the perfect economic storm, just as in the 1920s.

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ZombiehunterOct. 26, 1212:18 PM

"The negative impact of the Great Depression on our citizens was magnified by the almost total lack of a safety net. So yes, the 1920's were great - if you were part of the one percent. Sound familiar?"

Davidto46, your post made exactly the points I was going to bring up and in a very succinct manner.

The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

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