Paul van den Noord
(ECFIN Economic Briefs. 7. February 2010.
Brussels. pdf. 8pp. Tab. Graph. Ann. Bibliogr. Free.)
KC-AY-10-007-EN-N ISSN: 1831-4473
The 1937/38 recession in the United States is often quoted as a warning against premature exits from monetary and fiscal stimulus. The presumption is that the 1937/38 recession was indeed due to such a premature exit.
This Economic Brief presents evidence that goes against this view. The 1937/38 recession is equivalent to a downturn in 2016/17, which is obviously of little relevance now. Moreover, the cutback in policy stimulus at the time was not an early but rather a late exit, in the wake of an unduly late and timid entry.
Even more importantly, while the 1937/38 recession can be attributed to cut backs in policy stimulus to some extent, other factors appear to have been predominant. Notably, geopolitical tensions played a major role, along with adverse business confidence effects of Roosevelt's New Deal policies. Concerning the latter, the strengthening of wage bargaining power amid mass unemployment and heightened uncertainty over property rights were prominent.