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New light on Lauchlin Currie's monetary economics in the new deal and beyond

Sandilands, R.J. (2004) New light on Lauchlin Currie's monetary economics in the new deal and beyond. Journal of Economic Studies, 31 (3-4). pp. 170-197. ISSN 0144-3585

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Abstract

This special issue of the Journal of Economic Studies has been produced to mark, as nearly as possible, the 10th anniversary of Lauchlin Currie's death. He was born in the fishing village of New Dublin in Nova Scotia, Canada, September 8, 1902 and died in Bogotá, Colombia, December 23, 1993. An economist, described as the intellectual leader of the spending wing of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal (Herbert Stein, 1969, p. 165), Currie contributed several articles and reviews to this Journal over the last two decades of his long and extraordinarily varied career (Currie, 1974, 1975, 1976a, 1979, 1981a, b, 1983, 1990). Accordingly, the Journal's editor suggested that we mark the occasion with a special issue containing some of his hitherto unpublished papers and memoranda in the field of monetary theory and policy. As Humphrey (2003), Laidler (1993, 1999), and Steindl (1995) have explained, Currie's publications in the early 1930s presented a diagnosis of the causes of the 1929-1932 collapse in the US economy that was substantially the same as that advanced much later by Friedman and Schwartz (1963) in their A Monetary History of the United States. In that celebrated work, Friedman and Schwartz overlooked Currie's earlier contributions. Brunner, who wrote a long foreword for the 1968 reprint of Currie's (1934a) Supply and Control of Money in the United States, gave Currie to believe that the neglect was partly due to the damage that his reputation suffered during the McCarthy era, and/or to the notion that a radical New Dealer could not also be an upholder of what became known as the conservative "monetarist" school (Sandilands, 1990, p.157)[1]. However, in light of Laidler's reappraisal of Currie's early work, Friedman later proffered an explicit mea culpa for his earlier neglect (Laidler, 1993, p.1077n.12).