Herbert Hoover versus the Great Depression

From 1929 to 1933 Herbert Hoover arguably was our modern Sisyphus. Every time that he seemed to be on the brink of success in taming the Great Depression, some new crisis would erupt, while the “silent killer”—the con-traction of the money supply—would grind on. Each time, like Sisyphus, he would start over, unaware that much of his perpetual motion may have been doomed to futility by the monetary policies of a government agency beyond his control. Hoover’s presidency was stymied not so much by his political limitations, political philosophy, or policies but by something neither he nor virtually anyone else at the time quite understood: the fatal misjudgments and errors of the Federal Reserve Board.

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