1. Fear The Boom and Bust

    January 25, 2010 by JohnPapola

    In Fear the Boom and BustJohn Maynard Keynes and his friend / rival F. A. Hayek, two of the great economists of the 20th century, travel through time to attend an economics conference debating the causes and cures of economic crises in the wake of the panic of 2008. Before the conference begins, they go out for a night on the town learning first hand why there’s good reason to fear the boom and bust cycle.

    Since the global financial crisis of 2008 and "the Great Recession" which followed, the world has seen a resurgence of debate over what causes business cycles, how best alleviate their impact on people’s lives and, hopefully, how to prevent them in the future. As a result, the economic debates surrounding the Great Depression of the 1930s have been brought back to life and with them, the views of depression-era theorists John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek.

    Keynes, in his influential work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money put forward the view that deficit spending and other interventions by the government could stimulate economic recovery during a bust, regardless of what caused of crisis. His rival, Friedrich Hayek in Prices and Production and other works supported the view that government interventions, particularly in support of easy credit through central banks, tended to cause economic crises in the first place. To avoid the bust, don’t cause a boom.

    The debate between the views of Keynes and Hayek, itself a revival of much older debates between economists like David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus, continues to this day. We truly have been going back and forth for a century about the role of government intervention in economic booms and busts.