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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 461-462 of Stanley Lebergott’s indispensable 1984 volume, The Americans: An Economic Record; specifically, this passage is from Chapter 35 (“The New Deal”) [footnote excluded]:

The economy was still one in which private enterprise was expected to provide most jobs, and owners of private property were expected to invest and thereby stimulate the hiring of most of the unemployed.  But the usual cues that private firms and investors used to guide their investment and employment decisions were now changed largely, frequently, and unpredictably.  These changes were associated with the New Deal legislation and administration, much of which represented a long-delayed response to changes in the society.  The problem for investors was in part the vagaries and irrelevancies of the early attempts to drive up prices as a recovery technique.  In part it was the shifting advantage given to certain large firms and industries (via the NRA) and certain large planters and farms (via the AAA).  In part it was the changing advantage given to one group of financial institutions as against others in the competition for funds.  In part it was the passage of legislation that many considered due, and overdue, but which suddenly threatened to change costs of one industry or one product versus others in unpredictable ways.

Can you say “Robert Higgs”?