Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FDR's Economic Thinking Deteriorated Over Time

It turns out that FDR wasn't always a Keynesian. Before he was president, he was skeptical of government spending as a panacea for economic downturns. Lawrence O'Donnell reports:

Mike Konzcal of The Next New Deal, with the help of folks over at the FDR Presidential Library, have uncovered a fascinating piece of historical skepticism in Roosevelt’s old copy of William Foster and Waddill Catchings’ The Road to Plenty (1928), a book that put forward a prototype of Keynes’ “General Theory” eight years before the famous economist formalized it himself. Inside the front cover, under his name and the date, Roosevelt scrawled: “Too good to be true–you can’t get something from nothing.” 
Eventually Roosevelt’s skepticism faded. As MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell noted in the Rewrite Tuesday, “by the time Roosevelt took the oath of office as president in 1933, he had in effect become a Keynesian, a follower of the most prominent advocate of government spending during a recession.”


  1. Just finished the first 5 chapters of the "Myths of Roosevelt" by Flynn. The campaign by Roosevelt to beat Hoover would be to the right of today's GOP. He took power and literally threw all of that out the window to "pump prime". It was an unbelievable 180, similar to the Obama/Bush 180s. The lesson for me is there is nothing new under the sun.

  2. Is it correct to call any politician a Keynesian before 1936 (when the General Theory was published)?