Friday, December 03, 2010

Missouri Boy on Jobs

Benjamin McAlester Anderson, Jr. was a well-known Chase economist during the New Deal.

Anderson (1886-1949) was born in Columbia, Missouri, and entered the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1902 and was awarded the A.B. degree in 1906. He was appointed professor of political economy and sociology at Missouri Valley College in Marshall in 1906 and was named as the head of the department of history and political economy at the State Normal School at Springfield the following year.

He went on to earn his A.M. degree in 1910 from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University in 1911. The prestigious Hart, Schaffner & Marx prize in economics was awarded to him in 1910 for part of his dissertation that was subsequently published in 1911 as Social Value: a Study in Economic Theory, Critical and Constructive.

Anderson served on the faculty of Columbia University for two years and then at Harvard for five.

In 1918 he joined the National Bank of Commerce in New York City. In 1918 he joined the National Bank of Commerce in New York City. His book, Effects of the War on Money, Credit and Banking in France and the United States, was published in 1919. Chase National Bank hired Anderson in 1920 as economist and editor of the influential Chase Economic Bulletin. There he wrote a stream of learned articles critical of progressive policy in such diverse areas as money, credit, international economic policy, agriculture, taxation, war, government debt, and economic planning. He was a leading opponent of the New Deal and an enthusiastic supporter of a free market gold standard. He served as president of the Economists National Committee on Monetary Policy and often testified before Congress on matters of monetary and economic policy.

In 1939 he became professor of economics at the University of California at Los Angeles and was named the Connell professor of banking in 1946. He died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California just prior to the publication of his magnum opus, Economics and the Public Welfare: A Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914-1946, in which he draws the following conclusions on the ability of the government to create jobs:

  • "Prior to 1924 we had not regarded it as a federal government function to make employment. Employment was a matter for the people themselves to work out."
    "When the federal government took over and undertook to solve the problem for them, grave disasters followed.
    "President Roosevelt inherited a huge volume of unemployment. He did not cure it. The figures for 1933 are worse than the figures for 1932. The years 1933 to 1939, inclusive, show unemployment exceeding 10 million for three years, including 1938, and show unemployment exceeding 9 million for five years out of the seven"
    "The historical record is damning. The New Deal, viewed as an economic policy designed to promote employment, is condemned by the historical and statistical record."
    "The New Deal policy ... had made capital timid in the extreme and had greatly retarded the application of new technology." (pp. 477-478)
  • "... the Great Depression of 1930-1939 [arouse out of] the efforts of the governments, and very specially of the government of the United States, to play God." (p. 483)
Polyarchy Documents : Statism economy

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