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Reconstruction, Recovery, and Collapse, 1919–1933

  • Robert W. Oliver

Abstract

The rapid reconstruction of an advanced economy devastated by war or natural disaster requires the rapid replacement of physical facilities destroyed or rendered obsolete. This requires external assistance, for the import requirements of a reconstructing economy, in comparison with the recent past, are temporarily greater, and the export capabilities, temporarily less. The maintenance of tolerable living standards during reconstruction also requires the temporary provision by external sources of the food and raw materials the reconstructing economy would have been able to provide, directly or through imports matched by exports, if the devastation had not occurred. If external assistance is not available, reconstruction may be difficult. A substantial alteration in the structure of the economy may be required, and this process may be painful and slow, particularly if the monetary system works badly as it did in much of Europe following World War I. But external assistance, adequately provided and wisely used, can provide the imports required for rapid reconstruction. Just as strategic bombing, by imposing bottlenecks in a production system, can cause a greater reduction in total production than the percentage of the stockpile of capital destroyed, so external assistance, by removing bottlenecks, can induce a more than proportionate increase in total production.

Keywords

Exchange Rate Central Bank Federal Reserve Price Inflation Credit Expansion 
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References

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    Ibid., p. 85. Several years later, in his Public Papers and Addresses, President Roosevelt wrote: After the conference met in London, it became more and more clear that the gold bloc nations were seeking action only to bring about a temporary and experimental stabilization affecting the relationship between their monies and monies of Great Britain and the United States, neither of which was at that time on a free gold basis … It is true that my radio message to the London Conference fell upon it like a bombshell. This was because the message was realistic at a time when the gold bloc nations were seeking a purely limited objective, and were unwilling to go to the root of national and international problems. The immediate result was a somewhat petulant outcry that I had wrecked the conference. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Public Papers and Addresses (New York: 1938), vol. II, p. 206; quoted by Crawford, op. cit., p. 56. At the time of the Conference, Keynes proclaimed the President to be ‘magnificently right,’ an opinion with which Professor Gustav Cassell of Sweden, among others, agreed. See Crawford, op. cit., p. 57.Google Scholar
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© Robert W. Oliver 1996

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