In this informative study, Rauchway (Banana Republican), a historian of the Progressive and New Deal eras, provides a comprehensive account of monetary policies during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration and identifies the influence of British economist John Maynard Keynes, who, due to his prominence and prolific writing, “came to occupy an unusual place” among Roosevelt’s confidants. Faced with historically dire economic conditions and equipped with Keynes’s unconventional yet powerful ideas, Roosevelt essentially ended the gold standard and embarked on an expansionary monetary policy to induce economic recovery, stave off domestic radical and fascist movements, and preserve the capitalist order. Rauchway further argues that Roosevelt “reinvented the United States dollar” to be used as “a tool of economic policy,” forged wartime antifascist alliances, and that Roosevelt created a postwar international system of financial cooperation and stabilization to avoid “the great errors of 1919.” Though the administration continually contended with opposition from conservative financiers, whose frenetic fear of inflation and narrow focus on private profit eclipsed any aspirations for general prosperity, Roosevelt was able to keep bankers at bay. Rauchway’s thoughtful, well-researched narrative history is a valuable contribution to economic history, with ample lessons for the current era. B&w photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/2015 Release date: 10/01/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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