It was said of the Bourbons that they forgot nothing and learned nothing. The same could easily be said of some of today’s latter-day Keynesians. They cannot and never will forget the policy errors made in the US in the 1930s. But they appear to have learned nothing from all that has happened in economic theory since the publication of their bible, John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, in 1936.The British government, following the advice of Winston Churchill, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1925 restored the gold standard at the pre-World War I ratio, despite the fact that the wartime monetary inflation had driven up the price of goods. Gold should not have been priced at the pre-War price. But Churchill had decided that national pride was at stake. He pretended that the debasing of the pound sterling had not been government policy.
There was an outflow of gold from the Bank of England. Speculators thought the price of gold in pounds would have to be officially hiked. To keep this outflow from forcing the Bank of England to suspend payment, thereby confirming the forecasts of the speculators, the head of the Bank of England met with the head of the New York Federal Reserve in 1926 and persuaded him to inflate the dollar, so as not to make the dollar too valuable in relation to the pound. This would have caused investors to sell pounds and buy dollars. The U.S. government would then have sent pounds to Britain and asked for payment in gold. The New York FED did what the Bank of England asked. It inflated the dollar. The result was the stock market boom from 1926–1929.
The head of the New York FED died in 1928. His successor recognized that a stock market bubble was in process. The FED ceased inflating. Short-term interest rates rose. This popped the stock market bubble in October of 1929.The government then intervened. It raised tariffs. It began massive deficit spending. It began to interfere with pricing, so as to keep prices and wages high. In short, it adopted Keynesian policies, which made the economy much worse.
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