The Panic of 1819
Reactions and Policies
Murray N. Rothbard
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The panic of 1819 was America's first great economic crisis. And this is Murray Rothbard's masterful account, the first full scholarly book on the topic and still the most definitive. It was his dissertation, published in 1962 but nearly impossible to get until this new edition.
The American Economic Review was wild for this book when it appeared: "Rothbard's work represents the only published, book-length, academic treatise on the remedies that were proposed, debated, and enacted in attempts to cope with the crisis of 1819," the reviewer wrote. "As such, the book should certainly find a place on the shelf of the study of U.S. business cycles and of the economic historian who is interested in the early economic development of the United States."
And specialists have treasured the book for years. It is incredible to realize that some American historians think of M.N. Rothbard as the author of this book and nothing else!
The panic of 1819 grew largely out of the changes wrought by the War of 1812, and by the postwar boom that followed. The war also brought a rash of paper money, as the government borrowed heavily to finance the conflict. This would inevitably lead to suspension of specie payments in some parts of the country in 1814.
Freed from the shackles of hard money, the suspension of specie led to a boom. When peace came, the so did the bust.
But in the end, there was no widespread confusion on what caused the downturn. Instead, it was widely known that false prosperity is a very dangerous thing. It always turns to bust. But unlike today, the government didn't intervene. And precisely because there was no intervention, the panic ended quickly and peacefully.
What we have here, then, is not only a dazzling historical account — the research here is deep and thorough, and the prose a model of exposition; it also points the way to how all economic downturns can and should be handled. For that reason, the Panic of 1819 offers important lessons for us today.
- Category: Economics
- Published: Dec 07, 2011
- Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute
- Seller: Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics
- Print Length: 282 Pages
- Language: English