지은이: Caroline Baum
“I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.” - Ben Bernanke, Nov. 8, 2002
(...) In his speech, Bernanke refers to Friedman and Schwartz’s “A Monetary History of the United States: 1867-1960,” published in 1963, as “the leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history, the onset of the Great Depression.” Their research, which countered decades of Keynesian orthodoxy on the 1930s, placed the blame for what they dubbed the Great Contraction of 1929- 1933 squarely at the feet of the Fed.
Bernanke read “Monetary History” as a graduate student and became a self-described Great Depression buff. Not convinced the 1929-1933 contraction of the money supply was sufficient to account for the fall in output, he offered an additional explanation in a 1983 paper, “Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression.” Bernanke posited that the failure of financial institutions and increased cost of credit intermediation were partly to blame for the protracted decline in output and prices.
Little did he know that, 25 years later, he would get an opportunity to test his academic theory.
How did he fare? Bernanke may have inadvertently repeated some of the same mistakes of the 1930s, in the view of some monetarists.
The parallels between the two periods are striking, according to Robert Hetzel, author of “The Great Recession: Market Failure or Policy Failure?” In both instances, the Fed attributed the recession to the bursting of an asset bubble and resulting insolvencies of financial institutions. In both instances, policy was focused on facilitating the flow of credit.
“In neither instance did policy makers make any association between a central bank and money creation,” writes Hetzel, a senior economist and research adviser at the Richmond Fed.
The similarities don’t end there. ( ... ... )