A New Look At the New Deal

The online edition of the WSJ has an interesting article on the New Deal, with economists Brad Delong and Arnold Kling offering their modern perspectives on the historical event.

The New Deal is a mythical event in history. Just as we revere the constitution as the basis for our government and we revere Abraham Lincoln for ending slavery and preserving the union, we are supposed to revere the New Deal as somehow providing the basis for our modern prosperity. Yet the policies of the New Deal are quite a mixed bag, to say the least. Most were discarded by 1950. The survivors include agricultural policies that were almost certainly wrong then and are almost certainly wrong now. Most of the financial regulations, such as interest rate ceilings on bank deposits, proved unworkable by the 1970s. Social Security, and its offspring Medicare, are going to be the next great financial crisis in this country.