The Corner

1929 and All That

Hoovervilles, Jonah, perhaps not.  But I would not rule out the prospect (no, certainty) of very real, and very widespread, hardship if the credit markets continue to gum up as they are now doing. What’s more, we should also think about the politics of it all. Somehow I don’t see the newly unemployed getting much consolation from the fact that, thanks to new-fangled technology, they have a microwave oven and a car. People simply don’t compare their lot with how they would have fared in 1929. Rather, they look at how they were doing a year or so ago. Even a mild drop in living standards can generate a great deal of discontent (particularly when one considers the fact that many people have already seen their incomes stagnate for a shockingly long time). An abrupt drop could pave the way for who knows what. No, you might not get Hoovervilles, but you will get an Upton Sinclair . . .

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