The Great Crash – 1929

John Kenneth Galbraith

A slim and stunning volume, available in a reprint that could hardly be more timely. Galbraith spends the first sections of the book recounting the events of 1929 in a hard bitten, semi-journalistic voice, and he sustains a terrific narrative. The final section explores the causes for the Great Depression, including but not limited to the crash. Very perceptive, and the echoes of our day – sharply rising inequality, unbridled greed, fraud and a government of the elite and for the elite – still ring very true.
“Speculation on a large scale requires a pervasive sense of confidence and optimism and conviction that ordinary people were meant to be rich. People must also have faith in the good intentions and even in the benevolence of others, for it is by the agency of others that they will get rich. In 1929 Professor Dice observed: The common folks believe in their leaders. We no longer. We no longer look upon the captains of industry as magnified crooks.Have we not heard their voices over the radio? Are we not familiar with their thoughts, ambitions, and ideals as they have expressed them to us almost as a man talks to his friend? Such a feeling of trust is essential for a boom. When people are cautious, questining, misanthropic, suspicious, or mean, they are immune to speculative enthusiasms.”

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