Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friedman and Schwartz vs. Today’s Talking Heads: The 88 vs. The Gazillion

Talking heads, pundits, and media types speak/talk/write volumes-upon-volumes about the recent housing boom-bust and subsequent financial crisis. Specifically they commentate that the subsequent deep economic recession, shallow recovery, and subsequent economic malaise has a common thread of risk aversion and the quest for liquidity. They elude to, poke about, show charts and graphs, and otherwise attempt to explain in 100 gazillion words that risk adverse and liquidity is the revealed preference after a cataclysmic economic event.

Consider the following excerpt, specifically the eighty eight words within the following passage that concisely and compactly economize on the 100 gazillion plus words of today's talking heads, pundits, and media types:

“Partly, no doubt, the stock market crash was a symptom of the underlying forces making for a severe contraction in economic activity. But partly also, its occurrence must have helped to deepen the contraction. It changed the atmosphere within which businessmen and others were making their plans, and spread uncertainty where dazzling hopes of a new era had prevailed. It is commonly believed that it reduced the willingness of both consumers and business enterprises to spend ; (6) or, more precisely, that it decreased the amount they desired to spend on goods and services at any given levels of interest rates, prices, and income, which has, as its counterpart, that it increased the amount they wanted to add to their money balances. Such effects on desired flows were presumably accompanied by a corresponding effect on desired balance sheets, namely, a shift away from stocks and toward bonds, away from securities of all kinds and toward money holdings.” - Friedman and Schwartz, The Great Contraction 1929-1933, pp 10-11.

Note: the footnote referenced by Friedman and Schwartz appears below:

(6) See A. H. Hansen, Economic Stabilization in an Unbalanced World, Harcourt, Brace. 1932, pp. 111-112; J. A. Schumpeter. Business Cycles, McGraw-Hill 1939, Vol. II pp. 679-680; R. A. Gordon. Business Fluctuaions, Harper, 1952, pp. 377-379, 388; J. K. Gaibraith. The Great Crash, 1929, Boston. Houghton Mifflin, 1955, pp. 191-192. See also Federal Reserve Board, Annual Report for 1929, p. 12.

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