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Great; thanks for sharing.

I am pleased that the paper has finally seen the light of day. Highly recommended.

Yes, this paper is very good and well-researched. However, I have to question the opportunity cost of these sort of libertarian-minded endeavors. Libertarians, of course, already know all of this to be true (in fact, if it wasn't we would still try to come up with reasons explaining that it is). The purpose of scholarship like this is therefore clearly aimed at "party opponents," in the hope presumably of persuading them to modify their views (i.e. Hoover was a "do nothing" president).

Sadly, I don't think any amount of well-researched and well-reasoned scholarship will change the minds of people committed to big government views. What are the likely outcomes? (1) They could simply concede your point and perhaps argue that the depression was exacerbated because Hoover did not do enough! or (2) they could simply dispute your facts and research and insist that your portrayal does not tell the whole story.

Either way, I don't think papers like this will achieve their ultimate objective --- to change the minds of intellectual (and ideological) opponents. History and policy research simply does not do it. I think this is possible only in the realm of THEORETICAL discussion.

So here is my prediction: this paper will be celebrated by libertarians and either ignored or condemned by progressives. Let's see how my prediction plays out.

But it is still a good paper. I am in no way disparaging the excellent scholarship of Professor Horwitz; I am just questioning the allocation of his intellectual capital.

I think 'Austrian Away' is half right, but I still think that these types of papers have had an impact. I remember reading a blog post by DeLong where he 'concedes' (not sure if he ever argued otherwise, though) that Hoover did not practice laissez-faire policy. This shows that these types of defenses of libertarianism have had a sufficient enough impact to at least make the picture a bit more accurate.

Now, it is true that Keynesians will simply argue that neither were Hoover's policies Keynesian (just like monetarists, and some Austrians, will argue that monetary policy was too tight). If we concede this, I don't think we're stepping back -- the fact is that Hoover's policies were not a perfect manifestation of Keynesian stimulus (and they took place five to seven years prior to the publication of The General Theory

Well I think these kinds of papers must be written but why publish it with Cato. Horwitz has repeatedly stated that his goal is to participate in the mainstream intellectual discourse but mainstream intellectuals are not reading Cato briefing papers. So what is the point of writing such a paper if you're not going to publish it with a mainstream journal of economics history?

If outreach publication were futile, then Cato, Reason, et al. would have been out of business decades ago.

I think Jonathan is exactly right.

Austrians Away isn't entirely wrong, but I think he's looking at it the wrong way. If Steve's point is to convince Keynesians (let's say) that they should like Hoover he's going to fail at that. What Steve could succeed in convincing them of is that Hoover's not entirely laissez faire either (if we interpret that to mean strictly libertarian rather than positively disposed towards markets... I'm laissez faire by the latter definition but not the former).

I would like to think most people who are familiar with the Depression in any capacity already know this, but perhaps that's too generous. And even if it's not too generous lots of people DON'T know much about the Depression so it's still worth the investment of Steve's time.

Hoover doesn't make anyone happy. Clarifying that he doesn't make you happy always helps, but as Jonathan points out that's not equivalent to proving he's on "the other side".

When people make off-handed remarks about Hoover, I also think it's a signal of what's important to them.

If your idea of "doing something" is substantial fiscal or monetary stimulus, and the alternative - tepid spending growth, high wage policies, cartelization, or libertarianism - are all "what we should not be doing". From this perspective, Hoover "didn't do anything".

If your idea of "doing something" is to let the market adjust itself, then any alternative - substantial spending growth, tepid spending growth, high wage policies, and cartelization - are all "what we should not be doing". From this perspective, Hoover also "didn't do anything".

What people say about Hoover usually says more about where they are in relation to Hoover than it says about Hoover himself.

"When people make off-handed remarks about Hoover, I also think it's a signal of what's important to them."

What makes you think anyone cares about what you think about this?

BTW DK, if you'd actually read Steve's paper (instead of pontificating on what you think his intentions were), you'd know he never tried to portray Hoover as someone Keynesians would like. (It feels strange to defend Steve, but that's the way it is).

The Fresh Prince of Darkness:

I never said that was Steve's goal. I was criticizing the comment by "Austrians Away" for EXPECTING THAT of Steve. I haven't read the paper, but I'm more or less familiar with Steve's thoughts and I mostly agree with them.

It's very ironic for you to portray my comment so badly at the same time that you lecture me on it.

Steve never tried to argue Hoover was a Keynesian. That's because Steve's too smart to attempt such an argument. My point was that Jonathan is right and that Austrians Away seems to expect too much out of this when he talks about the "ultimate objective" of papers like this.

re: "What makes you think anyone cares about what you think about this?"

You clearly cared enough to write two snarky comments.

Great replies to my post, but let me respond by an example: if an excellently researched paper convinced us that Mises was actually a socialist, would we cease to be libertarian? Nope; we would just excommunicate Mises from the libertarian camp. Therefore, the aim should *always* be at challenging the ideas themselves, and not at pointing out that certain people failed to hold them.

Real quick:

DK is correct, there's no argument there that Hoover is a Keynesian or anything like it. It would be nice though if DK would read it. :)

The reason to write this piece was very explicit in my conversation with Cato: they wanted a piece that they could point to when folks in the media and the blogosphere repeat the Hoover as LF canard.

I wrote the first draft in more or less an afternoon because I had so much of the material in other places. Effectively my opportunity cost was a watching a college football game. I don't think that's too much given the potential value.

Finally, there's no reason to write a piece like this for the academic journals because, as the piece points out, most serious historians, and any economist who knows economic history, already know this stuff. The people who don't know it are the second-hand dealers in ideas (and the high school history teachers). THAT is who I'm trying to reach.

And yes, I want to be part of the conversation in economics, but that doesn't exclude engaging the policy discussion. I would like to contribute both as an academic and a public intellectual. After all, that's what Mises and Hayek did, no?

You know, I stand corrected. When Professor Horwitz phrases it in the way that he has, I can't help but agree. Papers like this should exist, and I never meant to suggest otherwise. (Now, Professor Horwitz can get back to the more important stuff, such as more papers on radical uncertainty and Austrian capital theory, right?)

Has Sautet left GMU (and the Austrian economists bog)?

You've got to admit - the previous 17th comment was creative.

Is the publication date of September 29th a coincidence? Mises's birthday.

Is it just me, or since the new method for commenting was introduced the amount of spam has increased?

Everyone knows that hark core Keynesians will never change. But keep in mind that young people haven't made up their minds yet.

Most of our efforts should be aimed at young people and those who have just become interested in economics because of the crisis and have open minds.

In other words, think marginally.

My problem with the Hoover high wage story since reading first in Rothbard and now in Ohanian is cartels are unstable.

The 1930 federal government was 4% of GDP or so and had few regulatory powers under the pre-new deal constitution.

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