In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Depression was much in the headlines. Most memorable, perhaps, was the Time magazine cover of Barack Obama dressed up as FDR, headlined: "The New New Deal: What Barack Obama can Learn from FDR." Several right-of-centre economists, most notably Robert Barro of Harvard, responded with opinion pieces in newspapers suggesting there was very little evidence that FDR's economic policies had actually worked or could work again.
Below you'll find two perspectives on the economic lessons of the Great Depression: one from Christina Romer, the Berkeley economics professor who advised the Obama administration—as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers—after the crisis of 2008. We also have an interview with Robert Barro on an alternative view. The good news is that there is considerable overlap in the books they chose.
If you're looking for fiction on the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath has been frequently recommended on Five Books, by former secretary of state John Kerry, amongst others.
A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960
by Anna Schwartz & Milton Friedman
Macroeconomic Effects from Government Purchases and Taxes
by Robert Barro
Identifying Government Spending Shocks
by Valerie Ramey
Essays on the Great Depression
by Ben Bernanke
The Great Depression in the United States from a Neoclassical Perspective
by Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian
Harvard macroeconomist Robert Barro takes issue with some common assumptions about the Great Depression, and how America got out of it.
The former chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers says we’ve learned that terrible downturns can still occur, but also that the right policy response can make a huge difference to the outcome