The parallels between Europe in the 1930s and Europe today are stark, striking, and increasingly frightening. We see unemployment, youth unemployment especially, soaring to unprecedented heights. Financial instability and distress are widespread. There is growing political support for extremist parties of the far left and right.
Both the existence of these parallels and their tragic nature would not have escaped Charles Kindleberger, whose World in Depression, 1929-1939 was published exactly 40 years ago, in 1973.1 Where Kindleberger’s canvas was the world, his focus was Europe. While much of the earlier literature, often authored by Americans, focused on the Great Depression in the US, Kindleberger emphasised that the Depression had a prominent international and, in particular, European dimension. It was in Europe where many of the Depression’s worst effects, political as well as economic, played out. And it was in Europe where the absence of a public policy authority at the level of the continent and the inability of any individual national government or central bank to exercise adequate leadership had the most calamitous economic and financial effects.2
These were ideas that Kindleberger impressed upon generations of students as well on his reading public.Read the rest at Vox.eu
New preface to Charles Kindleberger, The World in Depression 1929-1939
by J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley and Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley; formerly Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund, and CEPR Research Fellow