Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Why didn't economists predict the Great Depression?

Taylor, Leon (2014): Why didn't economists predict the Great Depression?


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Economists failed to forecast the Great Depression, perhaps because they had lacked reason to theorize enough about business cycles. Since theory is a public good, the market produces too little of it. The prospect of ex post fame may induce theory; but fame comes from explaining famous events, not from averting adverse events. Also, learning-by-doing induces theory by cutting its cost, favoring the first theories to be developed. These dealt with markets – not business cycles – in the decades before the Depression.

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