The great depression and macroeconomics reconsidered: The impact of policy and real-world events on economic doctrines

Masazumi Wakatabe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter investigates the nature of the transformation of macroeconomics by focusing on the impact of the Great Depression on economic doctrines. There is no doubt that the Great Depression exerted an enormous influence on economic thought, but the exact nature of its impact should be examined more carefully. In this chapter, I examine the transformation from a perspective which emphasizes the interaction between economic ideas and economic events, and the interaction between theory and policy rather than the development of economic theory. More specifically, I examine the evolution of what became known as macroeconomics after the Depression in terms of an ongoing debate among the "stabilizers" and their critics. I further suggest using four perspectives, or schools of thought, as measures to locate the evolution and transformation; the gold standard mentality, liquidationism, the Treasury view, and the real-bills doctrine. By highlighting these four economic ideas, I argue that what happened during the Great Depression was the retreat of the gold standard mentality, the complete demise of liquidationism and the Treasury view, and the strange survival of the real-bills doctrine. Each of those transformations happened not in response to internal debates in the discipline, but in response to government policies and realworld events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-302
Number of pages66
JournalResearch in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1


  • Economic policy
  • History of economic thought
  • I. Fisher
  • J.M. Keynes
  • R. G. Hawtrey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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