America’s Success Story is Due to a Little-Known Clause in the Constitution

Constitution

By Mark Skousen

 

Today is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the day members of the Continental Congress signed the US Constitution on September 17, 1787. 

There are several extremely important clauses in the Constitution that very few scholars recognize but which destined America to become the superpower that it is today. 

Here is my short column on this breakthrough principle in a recent Skousen CAFE:

 

Canada Closes Its Borders for No Good Reason

We received a call from a Canadian couple who said that they had to cancel coming to FreedomFest. They wanted to attend “the greatest libertarian show on earth,” but the Canadian authorities have decided to close the border to all “non-essential” travel.

Which raises an interesting question: Why were the Canadian and Mexican borders closed in 2020 and 2021, while the borders between states remained open?

Even now, while Americans can travel or move freely between states from coast to coast, they cannot travel to and from Canada and Mexico.

Did the pandemic suddenly stop at the borders?

The reason is simple to explain, but often involves a principle taken for granted by American citizens: The United States Constitution does not allow state governors to close their borders to adjacent states. Countries can do it, but not states.

None of the 50 states can keep you from visiting, moving or working in another state. They cannot keep you from transferring money, capital or goods to another state. They cannot require a passport for you to enter their state. They cannot impose any import or export duties between states.

The only exception is for the inspection of fruits and vegetables, something California does.

It’s All in The Constitution Section 9 and 10 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution is clear:

“No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

“No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

“No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws.”

And Article 4, section 2, states:

“The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

Finally, the 14th Amendment states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

 

Creating a Gigantic Free-Trade Zone from Coast to Coast

That’s why we are called the United States of America. The uniting of the 50 states economically is a major reason why America leads the world as an economic powerhouse.  It has created a gigantic free-trade zone from coast to coast. 

Ancient Rome had a similar arrangement.  There were no trade restrictions inside the Roman empire; it was one reason the Roman empire lasted so long. 

Recently, European nations have attempted to imitate our success with the creation of the European Union, sometimes called the “United States of Europe,” along with a single currency, the euro — to create a large free-trade zone of money, labor and capital.

Does the Constitution Limit or Expand State Powers? On the other hand, Article I, Section 8, grants extremely broad powers to Congress — to print money, expand credit, level taxes and import duties and declare war. You can drive a truck through section 8 of the Constitution.

As George Washington allegedly said, “Government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

At this year’s FreedomFest, we had a big debate on “The Constitution: Conceived in Liberty or Conspiratorial Coup?”  We debated libertarian Murray Rothbard’s controversial contention that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was a power grab to dramatically increase the state’s control of the new nation.  

Professor Patrick Newman, a fellow of the Mises Institute, argued in favor of Rothbard’s thesis, that James Madison called the Convention to secretly expand the power of the state. He was followed with commentary by legal authorities John Norton Moore (University of Virginia) and Anastasia Boden, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, who defended the Constitution.  It was an electrifying debate. 

You can order this session for only $5 at https://miracleofamerica.com/products/21-023?_pos=2&_sid=6acae2641&_ss=r

All 200 plus sessions can be accessed at miracleofamerica.com.  Price is only $195.  

Happy Constitution Day! 

In liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

Are We Rome?

By Mark Skousen

Talk delivered on Saturday, September 11, 2021, Kimber Academy in Lehi, Utah and Liberty United Festival in Vineyard, Utah

“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – Mark Twain

“In the end, there was no money left to pay the army, build forts or ships, or protect the frontier. The barbarian invasions were the final blow to the Roman state in the fifth century, [caused] by three centuries of deterioration in fiscal capacity…”
— Bruce Barlett, “How Excessive Government Killed Ancient Rome,” Cato Journal (1994)

It was 20 years ago today that my wife and I arrived in New York, where I was installed as president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), and witnessed first hand the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  It was an unforgettable day of infamy, and has so affected our culture, our liberties and our lives that we observe the date every year. 

Looking back, one thing I remember the most was that New Yorkers and Americans in general were completely unified in spirit at this time.  For months, residents posted pictures of family members who had died on 9/11.  Everyone was kind and friendly, like we were brothers and sisters in this together.  A few weeks later, I carried a large box of books downtown, and a New Yorker offered to help carry the box up the stairs from the train station. 

The other thing that I noticed is the street vendors in New York never displayed or sold post cards or pictures of airlines flying into the Twin Towers.  They respected the depth of sorrow after this event. 

The City was shut down for some time and everyone in the New York tried to access the damage and further threats to our security. Smoke filled the city, businesses closed and events were canceled. 

The first decision I had to make as the new president of FEE was to determine if we should cancel our annual Liberty dinner scheduled in October.  Our keynote speakers was Paul Gigot, the new editor of the Wall Street Journal, and I couldn’t even get a hold of him. (The Journal had moved their headquarters temporarily from Wall Street across the river to New Jersey.)

I gathered my staff the next day to make the decision.  Most staff members thought we should cancel or postpone the Liberty dinner. Our phones were quiet.  Nobody was calling in to sign up for the dinner.  I thought about it, and then said, “My first act as president of FEE is not going to cancel our annual dinner.  If that means just all of us sitting around the kitchen table, then so be it.” 

It was the right thing to do.  Within a week the phones started ringing again, and we had a full crowd of over 200 people at the Harvard Club in October, and Paul Gigot showed up and we had a big success. 

Since then, many friends of liberty have asked the question, “Are our freedoms in jeopardy?  Is America in decline like ancient Rome?”  I have a dozen books on ancient Rome in my library, and after Jake Oaks, the producer of the Liberty United Festival asked me to speak on this topic on 9/11, I read through these books, including Edward Gibbon’s classic 6-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1776. 

We decided to debate this question at FreedomFest in 2013. 

Are we Rome?

Our theme at FreedomFest was “Are We Rome?” to be held appropriately at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  We had a record turnout that year.

To introduce the theme, we showed this 3-minute.  Watch it here:  Are We Rome? FreedomFest 2013 on Vimeo

We had quite a group of speakers on this topic: 

Steve Forbes, author, “Power Ambition Glory: The Stunning Parallels between the Ancient World and Today.”

Lawrence W. Reed, president of FEE, “The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels.” (Afterwards, he spoke numerous times around the country on this question, and write a pamphlet, “Are We Rome?” published by FEE:  https://fee.org/resources/are-we-rome-by-lawrence-w-reed/)

Marc Eliot, Hollywood’s #1 biographer, on “Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Gladiator: Epic Films of Roman Times.”

Paul Cantor, University of Virginia professor of English literature, on “Empire and the Loss of Freedom: What Shakespeare’s Rome Can Tell About Us.”

Doug Casey (author and investment writer) vs. Harry Veryser (economist at the University of Detroit-Mercy and Catholic historian) will debate “Did Christianity Cause the Fall of Rome?”

Pat Heller, Liberty Coin Co., “The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Money — And What It Means for America Today.” He has samples of Roman coins to show attendees.

David Boaz, Cato Institute, “George Washington, a Modern-day Cincinnatus: The Man Who Would NOT be King.”

Jo Ann Skousen, professor of English literature at Mercy College and director of Anthem film festival, on “Greek and Roman Mythology in 50 Minutes.”

Jim Gwartney and Randy Holcomb (Florida State economists): “The Decline of Economic Freedom in America: Are We on the Path to Rome?”

Tom Palmer: “Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar” and “Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Citizen” — Tom is always knowledgeable on all things historical.

J. C. Bradbury, top sports economist (Kennesaw State University), on “Who Are The Modern-Day Gladiators? Sports as an Alternative to War.”

Valerie Durham, Isadora Duncan dance instructor, “Music and Dance in Roman Times.”

We are Different….

Of course, we are different from ancient Rome in a thousand ways.  Theirs was largely agrarian.  Our standard of living and technological advances are 100 times higher than the average Roman citizen of 2000 years ago.  Life expectancy was only 41 for Roman men and 29 for women.  Life was cheap.  Over half the population in the Roman empire were slaves.  Women could not vote.  Romans worshiped a plurality of gods, and only became Christian near the end.  They loved blood sports where for entertainment the masses enjoyed watching slaves and gladiators and even Christians die.  Dictators often killed their enemies (Cicero and Cato being prime examples.) 

There was virtually no middle class – only rich and poor.  After the republic, Rome was ruled mainly by tyrants and dictators.  And Roman leaders like Caesar and Augustus would be baffled by how the United States treated the conquered nations of Germany and Japan after World War II.  Finally, we are babes in the woods compared to Rome.  Our republic has lasted nearly 250 years; Rome lasted 1,000 years. 

…And We Are Alike

But in other ways, we are much like ancient Rome.  Both nations were born in a revolt against monarchy – the American colonies against a British sovereign, Rome against its own kings – and replaced it with a republic.  Like Rome of old, America dominates the world militarily, culturally, and economically.  American English is the language of commerce and science.  Like ancient Rome, we are a melting pot of ethnic groups.  Fifty states are united into a gigantic free-trade zone, and we’ve enjoyed decades without world war. 

As Adam Smith once said, “Little else is required for a nation to go from the lowest barbarism to the highest level of opulence but peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice.” 

Books and Speeches on Ancient Rome and Today

The question “Are We Rome?” remains a popular debate topic for Americans since we became a superpower in the 20th century.  Hollywood, in particular, has been fascinated with the story of ancient Rome, and many films with Roman themes have become classics, such as Ben Hur, Spartacus, and Gladiator. 

I have the first edition of a book, The New Deal in Old Rome, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1939, in which the author, H. J. Haskell, a reporter for the Kansas City Star, contends that the decline and fall of the Roman empire was being reenacted in the United States after we went off the gold standard, adopted a welfare state, and pursued world war. 

“The spending for non-productive public works, for the bureaucracy, and for the army, led to excessive taxation, inflation, and the ruin of the essential middle class and its leaders,” Haskell writes in the preface.

The book proved to be a bestseller at the beginning of World War II.

The latest book is Are We Rome?  The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, by another journalist, Cullen Murphy, published in 2007 by Houghton Mufflin. 

He answered, “Are we Rome?  In important ways we just might be.  In important ways we’re clearly making some of the same mistakes” (p. 206). 

Benefiting from Roman Traditions

It’s worth pointing out that America has drawn upon many Roman traditions.  I have a book entitled “Why We’re All Romans,” by historian Carl J. Richard.  He notes the following:  We use the Roman alphabet (rather than Greek, Chinese or Arabic).  Our months of the year, from January to December, are Roman.  July is named after Julius Caesar, August from Caesar Augustus.  Christmas grew out of an ancient Roman pagan festival honoring the agricultural go Saturn.  Most of the most influential Christian philosophers, including St Paul and Augustine, were Roman citizens.  The Bible was translated in the Latin Vulgate, and Latin was the official language of the Catholic mass until the 1960s. 

Fortunately, the West rejected the cumbersome Roman numerals and replaced them gradually with the far more productive Arabic numerals.  Ah, the benefits of cultural appropriation! 

The founders adopted many aspects of Roman law and politics, and the early years of the Roman republic were an inspiration to the American Constitution.  We have a Senate representing an upper-class group of legislators, and an assembly elected by the people (House of Representatives).  Rome and the United States share the symbol of the eagle (but so did the Nazis).  Our government building and Capitol are often an imitation of Roman architecture. 

The Rome That We Admire

The founding fathers were familiar with the history of the Roman empire and often sought to imitate their good traits.   

There are aspects of Roman leadership that we greatly admire, such as their building of their roads, bridges and aqueducts.  At the height of the Roman Empire, they had 370 separate highways stretching 53,000 miles, about the length of the US interstate system.  The roads were built to last, paved of stone and iron, and 10 feet deep.  Can we say the same for America’s infrastructure?  Many Roman roads, bridges and aqueducts can still be seen today, an engineering wonder.  How many presidents can say, as Augustus Caesar did, “I found it brick and left it marble”?

We admire the Roman Empire as a gigantic free-trade zone, and even though Augustus Caesar was a dictator, he lived frugally and modestly, and focused on a competent and efficient administration.  

For a period of time, Rome allowed free speech.  Anyone could criticize the emperor as long as he spoke inside the Forum. 

It has been a tradition to write or speak on liberty when visiting the Forum.  In 1854, John Stuart Mill and his wife Harriet visited the Forum and Mill came up with the idea of writing his libertarian tract, On Liberty, published in 1860.  In 1954, Friedrich Hayek followed in Mill’s footsteps and at the Forum decided to write his book The Constitution of Liberty, published in 1960.  Continuing this tradition, in 2009 I wore a toga and spoke freely in favor of “persuasion over force” in the Roman forum. See Persuasion vs. Force – MSKOUSEN.COM

Rome depended on the rule of law based on the Twelve Tables.  The United States created a Constitution that drew upon the ideas of Roman statesmen, including the idea of representative government, checks and balances, a judiciary, and limits (veto power) on our leaders. 

The founders admired the great statesmen, military leaders, orators, and philosophers from ancient Greece and Rome.  George Washington admired Cincinnatus, the Roman general who twice rescued Rome from attack, and each time retired to his farm.  John Adams sought to imitate Cicero, the famous orator, and Cato, the Young, public servants who spent their career battling the likes of Julius Caesar.  “Pushed and injured and provoked as I am, I blush not to imitation the Roman [Cicero],” said Adams.    

King George III was compared to Julius Caesar.  “We will have no Caesars in this country!” declared Benjamin Rush. 

One of the purposes of the US Constitution was to contain the power of ambitious and avarice leaders.  Benjamin Franklin warned, “We see the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.  I am apprehensive, perhaps too apprehensive, that the government of these states may in future times, end in a monarchy, and a King will sooner be set over us.” 

Lessons from Rome’s Mistakes

What lessons can we learn from Rome’s decline and fall? 

The founders saw that ancient Rome had no succession plan.  During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, 23 emperors were murdered.  It was always uncertain who would take their place.  The American founders provided a way to get rid of bad rulers through the impeachment process, and if a president died in office, to replace him with the vice president. 

Ancient Rome had a constitution based on a powerful devotion for centuries to custom, precedent and consensus, but which was not written.  That make it easier for an overzealous politician to bent the rules or simply disobey them.  For centuries Rome had two consuls running the government who were elected each year, and there were term limits.  But at the end of the Republic, ambitious generals ignored this tradition and sought to become dictators for life. 

This was one reason the founders insisted on a written constitution, although even then we know how easy it is to get around it. 

Historians point to over 200 reasons for Rome’s fall.  Rome destroyed itself internally and externally. Gradually its citizens became rich and decadent, demanding more free benefits from the government.  “Bread and circuses” were the rallying cry.  The welfare program offered free grain, olive oil and wine, and eventually eliminated a means test so that everyone qualified. 

Internally, the growing and expensive welfare state destroy not only destroyed the character of the Roman citizens, but its fiscal sanity.  The welfare state led to confiscatory taxation, excessive debt, inflation, and wage-price controls.  

We Americans are no fans of excessive government bureaucracy that Rome was famous for – tax collectors, administrators and soldiers were all a drain on the economy, and eventually leading to runaway inflation (coin clipping), and draconian wage and price controls edict under Diocletian in 301. 

Ancient Rome was also done in by costly foreign wars.  Just as Rome spread itself too thin around the ancient world, today the United States has 2.5 million troops stationed at over 700 bases in sixty countries. 

Will America split in two like Rome did into East (Constantinople) and West (Rome)? 

Mindful of these destructive policies in ancient Rome, our founders created the US Constitution to reduce the chances that America would follow the same fate.  Unfortunately, the Constitution can only do so much. 

As a student of history, I conclude that it is premature to say America is destined to collapse like the Roman empire.  But we are headed in that direction.  We are in many ways in decline.  Certainly China – the most serious threat to America’s dominance as the world’s #1 military and economic prowess – believes that the West is in decline and is doing everything in its military and economic power to take its place and achieve world domination by 1949, the 100th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China, what President Xi Jinping calls “the long game.” 

To summarize my view, I’m reminded of the story of a young man who approached Adam Smith, the venerable professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University, and author of “The Wealth of Nations.”  The young man informed Dr. Smith that the British had lost to the Americans at Sarasota in 1777, a turning point in the War of Independence, and declared, “We are lost!”  To which Adam Smith replied, “There is much ruin in a nation.” 

There’s a great many good people residing her in America; let’s not sell America short. 

But let us not be blind to our growing problems.  We are in the early stages of decline, but there is no reason why we can turn things around.  All we need to for good men and women to fight for our rights and our liberties.  To quote a line from Shakespeare’s Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” 

Interestingly, the first Roman king was named Romulus.  Fittingly, a thousand years later, the last emperor of Rome was also named Romulus.  So beware if we have a future president by the name of Washington. 

 

Groundbreaking

SQUARING THE MISES CIRCLE

“Eureka!  Skousen has done the impossible.  Students love it!  I will never go back to another textbook.”

Professor Harry Veryser, University of Detroit-Mercy

Economic Logic

They said it couldn’t be done.  Austrian economics is so different, they said, that it couldn’t be integrated into standard “neo-classical” textbooks.  Consequently, college students learn little or nothing about the great Austrian economists (Mises, Hayek, Schumpeter).

 Starting with Menger’s “Theory of the Good” and the Profit-and-Loss Income Statement

Professor Mark Skousen’s Economic Logic (now in its new 5th edition) aims to change that.  Based on his popular course taught at Chapman University, Columbia Business School, and other institutions, Skousen starts his “micro” section with Carl Menger’s “theory of the good” and the profit-and-loss income statement to explain the dynamics of the market process, entrepreneurship, and the advantages of saving.  Business students find this approach especially valuable.  After analyzing the dynamics of the P&L statement, supply and demand diagrams are introduced.

 Linking Micro and Macro

Then he incorporates a simplified version of “Hayek’s Triangles,” a powerful four-stage model of the economy to link micro and macro economics for the first time.  For micro, he uses Stanford Professor John Taylor’s 4-stage process of making coffee:

Coffee_Chart_02Figure 1.  Four Stages of Production of Espresso Coffee.

 Then for the macro model, Dr. Skousen uses this universal 4-stage diagram:

4-stage_model_02bNotice that this Hayekian 4-stage model ties into national income accounting.  GDP represents the final stage of production – the value of all finished goods and services produced in a year.

GO Behind GDP:  Measuring Hayek’s Triangle

Every quarter a public-traded company releases a financial statement that includes both the “top line” (revenues/sales) and a “bottom line” (earnings, net income).

Using the 4-stage model of the economy, Skousen applies the same approach to national income accounting.  Based on his work, The Structure of Production (NYU Press, 1990), he identifies gross output (GO) as the value of all 4 stages of production (#1 through #4 above) or the “top line” in national income accounting, and GDP (stage #4) as the “bottom line.”

GO is a measure of Hayek’s triangle.  It adds up sales or revenues at all stages of production throughout the year, while GDP counts only final sales.

GO is a vital statistic, as it includes the value of the supply chain, all the business-to-business (B2B) transactions that move the production process toward final use.  It is a measure of the “make” economy, while GDP estimates the value of the “use” economy.

In Economic Logic, GO is incorporated as a more comprehensive measure of the economy, serves as a valuable tool in analyzing the business cycle, restores the business sector as the major driver of the economy, and deserves to be updated on a quarterly basis along with GDP.

GO is now a reality.  In April, 2014, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in the Department of Commerce announced it will publish GO every quarter along with GDP.  Austrian economics (Hayek’s triangles) is now officially part of macroeconomic accounting!   (For Skousen’s latest press release on GO, go to www.mskousen.com.)

For the first time, the 5th edition of Economic Logic fully integrates GO in the chapters 14-15 on national income accounting and throughout the textbook.  GO is presented as the top line, and GDP as the bottom line in national accounting.  As economists Dale W. Jorgenson, Stephen Landefeld, and Bill Nordhaus state in their book “A New Architecture in US National Accounts,” “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare.  Both are required in a complete system of accounts.”

 Added Highlights to the 5th Edition

In addition, here’s new material found in the 5th edition:

  • John Mackey’s “stakeholder” model of capitalism has been incorporated into the stages-of-production process in chapter 3. Moving the production process along requires the cooperation of all economic inputs or stakeholders.
  • Updated discussions on job creation, the labor force participation rate, and the recovery after the Great Recession is discussed in detail in chapters 10 and 25. Chapter 10 also addresses the unemployment issues in Europe and America, and the prospects for renewed growth under a Trump administration.
  • Recent government regulations (Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, SEC) following the 2008 financial crisis and the Bernie Madoff fraud are discussed in chapter 13.
  • The consumption and savings rate patterns of China are compared to those of the United States in chapter 17. This comparison helps to determine what drives the economy, consumer spending or savings/investment?
  • The end of the Federal Reserve’s “easy money” policies of ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) and Quantitative Easing (QE) in 2017 are debated in chapter 19.
  • The on-going debate on “austerity” vs. “stimulus” has been added to chapter 22.
  • What factor is more significant in the business cycle, Keynesian lack of “aggregate demand” or Hayekian “malinvestment”? See chapter 25.
  • The rise of state capitalism in China is highlighted in chapter 27.
  • The international gold standard, the defects of central banking, and the Mises/Hayek theory of the business cycle.
  • A full critique of the Keynesian Aggregate Supply and Demand (AS-AD) model, and a revolutionary Austrian alternative (chapters 22 and 25).  Plus a critique of Marxism and socialist central planning (chapter 27).
  • Entrepreneurship, the financial markets, environmental economics, monetary policy and inflation, federal spending and taxes, and government regulation.
  • Leaders of all schools, including Austrian, Keynesians, Marxist, Chicago, and Public Choice.
  • Austrians highlighted include Ludwig von Mises (chapter 2), Carl Menger (3), Joseph Schumpeter and Israel Kirzner (8) Eugen Böhm-Bawerk (11), Peter F. Drucker (12), Murray Rothbard (18), and Friedrich Hayek (25).  Other highlighted free-market economists include Adam Smith, Gary Becker, George Stigler, John Bates Clark, J. B. Say, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Art Laffer, Ronald Coase, Julian Simon, and Robert Mundell.
  • Economic Logic is dedicated to Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, thus drawing from the best of the Austrian and Chicago schools of free-market economics.
  • A glossary of terms has been added to this edition.

 What Economists Are Saying

“An excellent balance of theory and the real world that no other text has achieved.”

– Charles Baird, CalState East Bay


“Better than any book out there!  Skousen presents real business economics in a clear, provocative and logical fashion.”

– Ian Mackechnie, University of Wales


“Perfect for any economics student — designed to maximize learning while minimizing monotony.  Simple, direct, and comprehensive.”

– K. Au, home school instructor


“My college econ classes, filled with perplexing theories like the paradox of thrift, GDP and Keynesian fiscal policy, were completely refuted by this excellent free-market textbook.  Students, if your professors don’t use this text, get it for yourself so you can really understand the concepts of sound economics.”

– Amazon review


 

 SPECIAL OFFER: 

ONLY $39.95

This new 5th edition (2017) of Economic Logic is a 714-page quality paperback published by Capital Press/Regnery.  It retails for $79.95, but is available at a discount — only $39.95, plus $5 shipping & handling (for all orders outside the US, add an additional $15), by calling Ensign Publishing at:

1-866-254-2057

 

 About the Author

Mark Skousen, Ph. D., is a Presidential Professor at Chapman University, has taught economics at Columbia University, is the former president of FEE, and is the author of over 25 books, including several in Austrian economics:  The Structure of Production (NYU Press); Vienna and Chicago, Friends or Foes? (Capital Press), The Making of Modern Economics (Routledge), and A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street:  Austrian Economics for Investors (LFB Books).  For more information, go to www.mskousen.com.

http://mskousen.com/2017/10/2322squaring-the-mises-circle/

ANNOUNCING A NEW EDITION BREAKTHROUGH COURSE IN FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM

“Mark Skousen is America’s leading economic author because he roots his luminous books in the real world.  He is the Hayek of our era.” – George Gilder

Economic Logic

Based on his popular classes at Chapman University and Columbia Business School, Professor Mark Skousen has just released the 5th edition of Economic Logic, the only “no compromise” college-level course in free-market economics.

It is uniquely based on his 40 years of experience as a CEO of several successful businesses, economic analyst for the CIA, president of a non-profit (FEE), and teacher at major colleges and universities.  (He has a Ph. D. in monetary economics from George Washington U.)  He is the founder of FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.”  Dr. Skousen was recently ranked as one of the world’s top 20 most influential economists today.

Economic Logic is divided into 28 lessons or chapters, and is used as a primary textbook in over a dozen major colleges and universities.  It is designed to give you the analytical tools and market solutions to the most pressing problems facing business, government leaders, and individuals today:

  1. Real market solutions to the Great Recession and European debt crisis (including the hidden benefits of “austerity” programs).
  2. How John Mackey’s revolutionary “stakeholder” brand of “conscious capitalism” is destined to transform global business.
  3. Proof that the Federal Reserve is the engine of inflation, not the defender of sound money. (And why gold will never disappear as a monetary asset.)
  4. Why the Chinese model of state capitalism is destined to fail.
  5. How the Austrian school of Mises and Hayek trumps the Keynesians, Chicago monetarists, and Marxists. (Each chapter highlights an influential economist).
  6. How the welfare state violates the fundamental principles of sound economics, and how other countries have resolved the unfunded liability problem.
  7. Why saving, technology, entrepreneurship, and business investment drive the economy — not consumer spending or government stimulus.
  8. It introduces a major breakthrough in macroeconomics: a “top line” in national income accounting called gross output (GO), and why GDP distorts and leaves out critical information about production, consumption and investment.
  9. A full critique of Keynesian economics and the dangers of easy-money policies.
  10. Updates on the economics of global warming, Obamacare, and other threats to prosperity.

For more information, go to www.mskousen.com

 What Others Are Saying

 “Students love it.  I will never go back to another textbook.” – Prof. Harry Veryser (University of Detroit-Mercy)

From Amazon reviews:  “Ground breaking….Gave me a profound new understanding of real-world economics and personal finance….Easy to read without any need for math…My college economics courses, filled with perplexing theories like the paradox of thrift, GDP and Keynesian fiscal policy, were completely refuted in this excellent free-market textbook.”

Economic Logic

This new 5th ed. of Economic Logic is completely revised and updated, a 714-page workbook published by Capital Press/Regnery.  It retails for $79.95, but you pay only $39.95, plus $5 S&H (for all orders outside the US, add an additional $15).  For all credit call orders, call Ensign Publishing, toll-free 1-866-254-2057, or go to www.miracleofamerica.com.

SECOND QUARTER GROSS OUTPUT AND B2B INDEX INCREASE, STILL NO SIGNIFICANT GROWTH OF THE U.S. ECONOMY.

By Mark Skousen

Washington, DC (Thursday, November 3, 2016):  Gross output, the top line of national income accounting, increased 1.1% in the second quarter of 2016, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  It is still sluggish and without indication of significant growth.  While the overall economy showed signs of growth, industries in the early stages of production are struggling according to economic data released today.

The Skousen B2B Index, a measure of business spending throughout the supply chain, moved into positive territory after falling for three quarters in a row.  The B2B Index change versus prior quarter in nominal term is currently at +1.1%.  The small increase is a positive sign.  However, unless the trend continues for the remainder of the year, the threat of a potential mild business recession still remains as we approach 2017.

Based on data released today by the BEA and adjusted to include all sales throughout the production process, nominal adjusted GO increased 1.1 % in the 2nd quarter of 2016, slightly better than the increase in the 1st quarter of 2011 (+0.3%) [1].  Adjusted GO was almost $39.5 trillion in the 2nd quarter, more than double the size of GDP ($18.45 trillion), which measures final output only.  Nominal GDP, the bottom line of national income accounting, rose 0.92% in the 2nd quarter versus the previous quarter (3.7% annualized).

Supply chain activity varied among various sectors significantly in the 2nd quarter, with significant declines in early-stage production.  Compared in real terms to the previous quarter, mining activity fell by another -12.6% in Q2 after declining -18.7% in Q1.  The Construction sector declined -7.5% after showing a +9.4% growth in the previous quarter.  The information sector also reversed course and declined -2.3% in Q2 after a 5.6 increase in Q1 2016.

The Professional, scientific, and technical services sector made a positive contribution and increased 3.6%.  However, that is less than half the growth rate (+8.8%) from Q1. The sector that increased more than previous quarter was Health care and social sciences, which grew by almost 10%.  This is higher by a third compared to the Q1 result of +7.5%

While the Retail sector was slightly higher (1.78%) in Q2 2016 versus the previous quarter, the Wholesale sector was down (-1.80%).  This is another indicator that spending in early stages is still struggling.

Government spending (11% share of total GO) was flat (+0.13%) with federal spending growing a bit more (0.21%) than local government, which grew only 0.09%.

Adjusted GO vs GDP rate of change 2016 Q2e

Gross output (GO) and Gross domestic product (GDP)are complementary statistics in national income accounting.  GO is an attempt to measure the “make” economy; i.e., total economic activity at all stages of production, similar to the “top line” (revenues/sales) of a financial accounting statement.  In April 2014, the BEA began to measure GO on a quarterly basis along with GDP.

GDP  is an attempt to measure the “use” economy, i.e., the value of finished goods and services ready to be used by consumers, business and government. GDP is similar to the “bottom line” (gross profits) of an accounting statement, which determined the “value added” or the value of final use.

GO tends to be more sensitive to the business cycle, and more volatile, than GDP. During the financial crisis of 2008-09, GO fell much faster than GDP, and afterwards, recovered more quickly than GDP. Still, it wasn’t until late 2013 that GO fully recovered from its peak in 2007. The fact that the adjusted GO reversed course and grew faster than GDP is a positive sign.  However, GO growth will have to increase significantly in upcoming quarters to suggest that the economic recovery continues into 2017.

Real Business Spending (B2B) Suffers Slight Decline

We have also created a new business-to-business (B2B) index based on GO data.  It measures all the business spending in the supply chain and new private capital investment.  Nominal B2B activity increased 1.1% compared to the previous quarter to $22.5 billion.  Meanwhile, consumer spending rose 1.6% to $12.7 billion in Q2.

2016 Q2 Skousen B2B Index vs consumer spending

“The GO data and my own B2B Index demonstrate that total US economic activity has picked up slight,” stated Mark Skousen, editor of Forecasts & Strategies and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. “B2B spending is in fact a pretty good indicator of where the economy is headed, since it measures spending in the entire supply chain, and it indicates tepid growth at this stage, despite desperate efforts by the Federal Reserve and the federal government to stimulate the economy.”

Skousen champions Gross Output as a more comprehensive measure of economic activity. “GDP leaves out the supply chain and business to business transactions in the production of intermediate inputs,” he notes. “That’s a big part of the economy.  GO includes B2B activity that is vital to the production process. No one should ignore what is going on in the supply chain of the economy.”

Skousen first introduced Gross Output as a macroeconomic tool in his work The Structure of Production (New York University Press, 1990). A new third edition was published in late 2015, and is now available on Amazon.

Click here: Structure of Production on Amazon

The BEA’s decision in 2014 to publish GO on a quarterly basis in its “GDP by Industry” data is a major achievement in national income accounting. GO is the first output statistic to be published on a quarterly basis since GDP was invented in the 1940s.  With GO and GDP being produced on a timely basis, the federal government now offers a complete system of accounts. As Dale Jorgenson, Steve Landefeld, and William Nordhaus conclude in their book, A New Architecture for the U. S. National Accounts, “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare. Both are required in a complete system of accounts.”

Skousen adds, “Gross Output and GDP are complementary aspects of the economy, but GO does a better job of measuring total economic activity and the business cycle, and demonstrates that business spending is more significant than consumer spending,” he says. “By using GO data, we see that consumer spending is actually only about a third of economic activity, not two-thirds that is often reported by the media. As the chart above demonstrates, business spending is in fact almost twice the size of consumer spending in the US economy.”

Note: Ned Piplovic assisted in providing technical data for this release.

For More Information

The GO data released by the BEA can be found at www.bea.gov under “Quarterly GDP by Industry.” Click on interactive tables “GDP by Industry” and go to “Gross Output by Industry.” Or go to this link directly: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=51&step=1#reqid=51&step=3&isuri=1&5102=15

For more information on Gross Output (GO), the Skousen B2B Index, and their relationship to GDP, see the following:

Mark Skousen, “At Last, a Better Economic Measure” lead editorial, Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014: http://on.wsj.com/PsdoLM

Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine (April 14, 2014): “New, Revolutionary Way To Measure The Economy Is Coming — Believe Me, This Is A Big Deal”:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2014/03/26/this-may-save-the-economoy-from-keynesians-and-spend-happy-pols/

Mark Skousen, Forbes Magazine (December 16, 2013): “Beyond GDP: Get Ready For A New Way To Measure The Economy”:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/29/beyond-gdp-get-ready-for-a-new-way-to-measure-the-economy/

Steve Hanke, Globe Asia (July 2014): “GO: J. M. Keynes Versus J.-B. Say,” http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/go-jm-keynes-versus-j-b-say

New:  Mark Skousen, “Linking Austrian Economics to Keynesian Economics,” Journal of Private Enterprise, Winter, 2015:  http://journal.apee.org/index.php?title=Parte7_Journal_of_Private_Enterprise_vol_30_no_4.pdf

To interview Dr. Mark Skousen on this press release, contact him at [email protected], or Ned Piplovic, Media Relations at [email protected]

# # #

—–

[1] The BEA currently uses a limited measure of total sales of goods and services in the production process. Once products are fabricated and packaged at the manufacturing stage, the BEA’s GO only adds “net” sales at the wholesale and retail level. Its official GO for the 2016 2nd quarter is $32 trillion.  But by including gross sales at the wholesale and retail level, the adjusted GO is $39.5 trillion in Q2 2016.  Thus, the BEA omits $7.5 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions in its GO statistics.  We include them as a legitimate economic activity that should be accounted for in GO, which we call Adjusted GO.  See the new introduction to Mark Skousen, The Structure of Production, 3rd ed. (New York University Press, 2015), pp. xv-xvi.

The Making of Modern Economics Wins 2009 Choice Award

My book The Making of Modern Economics has just won the Choice Book Award for Outstanding Academic Title for 2009. Choice is the reviewing journal for academic libraries. I was delighted by this surprise announcement, especially for a 2nd edition!

Winner of 2009 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title

Winner of 2009 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title

Some of the unique characteristics of The Making of Modern Economics:

1. A major critique of Karl Marx’s theories of capitalism, labor, imperialism and exploitation, and why most of his predictions have utterly failed. (Many former Marxists report that that this chapter alone converted them to the free market.)
2. Two chapters on Keynes and Keynesian economics, what one economist has called “the most devastating critique of Keynesian economics ever written.”
3. Five full chapters on the Austrian and Chicago schools of free-market economics. It is the only one-volume history of economics written by a free-market economist (all previous histories had been written by socialists, Keynesians and Marxists).
4. How Keynes saved capitalism — from Marxism!
5. Over 100 illustrations, portraits, and photographs.
6. Provocative sidebars, humorous anecdotes, even musical selections reflecting the spirit of each major economist.

Choice Review: “With a supreme, lively blend of economics and sociology, Skousen has magnificently managed to put flesh, blood, and DNA on the skeleton of economics in this survey of great economic thinkers. This new work is must reading for economists who want to acquire professional depth and richness. Essential. All economics collections and all levels of readers.”

Description: Here is a bold, updated history of economics–the dramatic story of how the great economic thinkers built today’s rigorous social science. Noted financial writer and economist Mark Skousen has revised this popular work to provide more material on Adam Smith, Marx, and Keynes, and expanded coverage of Joseph Stiglitz, “imperfect” markets, the financial crisis of 2008, and behavioral economics.

Available in hardback and paperback on Amazon.com.

Other quotes about The Making of Modern Economics:

“Mark’s book is fun to read on every page. I have read it three times, and listened to it on audio tape on my summer hike. It deserves to stay in print for many decades. I love this book and have recommended it to dozens of my friends.” — John Mackey, CEO/President, Whole Foods Market

“I champion Skousen’s new book to everyone. I keep it by my bedside and refer to it often. An absolutely ideal gift for college students.”– William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review

“Mark Skousen has emerged as one of the clearest writers on all matters economic today, the next Milton Friedman.” –Michael Shermer, Scientific American

“Both fascinating and infuriating….engaging, readable, colorful…”–Foreign Affairs

“Provocative, engaging, anything but dismal.”–N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University

“Lively…amazing…good quotations!” —Journal of Economic Perspectives

“One of the most original books ever published in economics.”–Richard Swedberg, University of Stockholm

“Lively and accurate, a sure bestseller. Skousen is an able, imaginative and energetic economist.” — Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution

“Having no previous interest in economics, I was honestly surprised to find your book so captivating.” –Haila Williams, Production Manager, Blackstone Audio Books

“Skousen gets the story ‘right’ and does it in an entertaining fashion, without dogmatic rantings.” –Peter Boettke, George Mason University

“One of the most readable ‘tell all’ histories of the 20th century.”–Richard Ebeling, Hillsdale College

“I couldn’t put it down! The musical accompaniments for each chapter are a wonderful touch. Humor permeates the book and makes it accessible like no other history. It will set the standard.”–Steven Kates, chief economist, Australian Chamber of Commerce

“The most fascinating, entertaining and readable history I have ever seen. I highly recommend it for translation abroad.”–Ken Schoolland, Hawaii Pacific University

“My students love The Making of Modern Economics! Mark Skousen makes the history of economics come alive like no other textbook.”– Roger W. Garrison, Auburn University.

“It’s unputdownable!”–Mark Blaug, University of Amsterdam

“Skousen is the only economist I know who I can understand. He writes for the common man!” — Dr. Laurence Hayek, U. K.

“Mark Skousen has a genius for explaining complex issues in a clear way and connecting ideas. He is the Henry Hazlitt of our time.” –Steve Mariotti, President, NFTE

“Mark Skousen is a great economist, great philosopher, great entrepreneur, and great friend. He should win the Nobel in economics.” — Steve Forbes

Available in hardback and paperback on Amazon.com.

Who’s to Blame for ObamaCare? Two Conservatives!

I wrote the following article for Human Events, but apparently it was too controversial and was removed after about 100 e-letters of commentary, both favorable and critical. Read here’s the original op-ed, uncensured.)

by Mark Skousen

This week the Senate grinches stole Christmas. The Obama Nation is getting Obama Care.

It’s easy to blame the sixty Democrats, as the Wall Street Journal does, for “the worse bill ever.” It solemnly declares: “These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command–and control regulation.”

True enough. But what’s the root cause of this disaster?

Sorry, friends, it’s not the Democrats, nor the American people who elected them.

The real culprits are two “conservative” Republicans who ran the show the previous eight years: George W. Bush, and his “master political strategist” Karl Rove. If it weren’t for these two fools in the White House, the Democrats wouldn’t have sixty Senators, including a professional comedian from Minnesota, to close off debate and ram down our throats a bill worse than Hillary Care.

The fact is that the Bush & Rove comedy act pushed through a litany of ruinous government policies that led to the lowest approval numbers in history:

–the undeclared and costly War in Iraq and its stepchild the unconstitutional Patriot Act.
–the monstrous No Child Left Behind Act that dramatically increased federal intervention in private education.
–the Prescription Drug Act that gave the American people another benefit-corrupted entitlement and unfunded liability.
–large and growing deficits and national debt (according to the Cato Institute, George W. Bush was the biggest spender since LBJ: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/12/19/george-w-bush-biggest-spender-since-lbj/)
–the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, largely due to their failure to reform government-sponsored agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The supply-side tax cuts were probably the only major piece of economic legislation that Bush/Rove deserve credit for, but even then, they blundered in not making the tax cuts permanent. So now even if the Republicans take back Capitol Hill in the 2010 elections, all President Obama has to do is veto an extension of the Bush tax cuts, a voila, taxes will increase automatically.

In short, we are paying a heavy price for the “compassionate conservativism” of Bush/Rove.

Once Obama Care becomes law, like Medicare and other “Great Society” programs, it will never end. We will be stuck with national health care for the rest of our lives.

And how are Bush and Rove rewarded? Fortunately, we aren’t seeing much of George Bush, who is quietly in retirement in Texas.

The tragedy is Karl Rove, who has been rewarded by conservatives. He’s treated like a triumphant general on Fox News almost every night, and was signed on as a regular columnist in the prestigious Wall Street Journal.

Shame.

In liberty, AEIOU,
Mark Skousen

Book Review: The Making of Modern Economics

Click here to purchase The Making of Modern Economics by Mark Skousen

Click here to purchase The Making of Modern Economics by Mark Skousen

From an online book review on BillyBush.Net:

I recently finished “The Making of Modern Economics” by Mark Skousen.  I found this book quite intriguing.  It provides a powerful foundation and historical background to economic thought by offering the histories of the individuals that most contributed to modern schools of economics and public policy.

Free Market Health Care Is The Answer

“Capitalism is turning luxuries into necessities.” — Andrew Carnegie

Watching the shouting matches occurring at the town hall meetings across America, do you ever wonder why nobody holds town hall meetings or writes complaining letters to Congress about food and housing?

After all, food and housing are even more important than medical help.  Most Americans don’t need to go to the doctor every day, but you do need to eat every day and live under a roof.

Read the entire article on Human Events Online.

Brother, Can You Spare a Decade?

Perspective – Liberty Magazine – May 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Decade?
by Mark Skousen

Few things other than a New Deal can be more painful than an economic depression. But few eras were more vital and enjoyable than the private side of the last one.

One of the rare books in my financial library is “I Like the Depression,” by Henry Ansley, the “Jackass of the Plains.” This amusing little volume was published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1932, and the price was a buck fifty.

Ansley, a newspaperman from Amarillo, Texas, described a prosperity in the 1920s that wasn’t that great. He burned candles at both ends, became a financial hotshot, and ultimately overextended himself. Then the depression hit: “Good-by twin beds, frozen salads, indigestion, credit and swelled head. Hail to the old-fashioned nightgown, buttermilk, sow bosom [a kind of food], comfort and cash.” He lost his job but found happiness by rediscovering leisure, friends, and neighborliness. Hard times taught him the value of a dollar and not to take things for granted: “My dog is my pal again; my wife my lover and my Dad my advisor.”

Ansley’s book was never a bestseller, but it started me thinking. Can the worst of times also be the best of times? The history books are replete with the evils of the 1930s — soup lines, bank closings, Hoovervilles, dustbowls, bear markets, demoralizing despair. It’s all been retold countless times, in such books as Milton Meltzer’s “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” and most recently Amity Shlaes’s “The Forgotten Man.” The Great Depression brought us Nazi Germany, the New Deal, Keynesianism, and, some say, World War II.

Not surprisingly, everyone from Wall Street to the halls of Congress is worried that the current recession will turn into the dreaded D, and has seized on desperate rescue measures. But was the Great Depression all bad? Did anything good come out of the 1930s? I started doing some research and was amazed to find a bright side to the gloomy ’30s — a lower cost of living, great new inventions and other technological advances, new forms of entertainment, more sports and reading, and a return to sober social behavior.

Start with leisure. Henry Ansley describes the free time he had during the depression. Indeed, millions of Americans had a lot more leisure time. Before the depression, almost everyone worked a six-day week. In the 1930s, the five-day work week became commonplace. “Spread the work!” was the rally cry. By 1937, wage earners in 57% of all manufacturing companies enjoyed a five-day week. Saturday was now a free day, and the Saturday rush hour was replaced by the Friday rush hour.

As a result, there was a tremendous increase in sports and leisure-oriented jobs. People began getting out into the sun and open air and taking a greater interest in golf, tennis, skiing, roller skating, and bicycling. Softball became a national pastime; by 1939, there were nearly half a million teams and 5 million players of all ages throughout the country. Expensive private club golf courses withered, but inexpensive public courses grew. Miniature golf was all the rage in the early ’30s. Bobby Jones became the first and only person to win the Grand Slam of golf in 1930. And black athletes became national idols for the first time, Joe Louis in boxing and Jesse Owens in track and field.

Americans traveled more. House trailers became a very big business. Camping, canoeing, and other inexpensive outdoor activities increased in popularity. People took their cameras with them, and photography became a craze of remarkable dimensions. Americans took tons of pictures with their small German cameras. Life and Look — big, glossy picture magazines — became popular.

Dancing, all the rage in the ’20s, continued to rage in the ’30s. Americans would dance their way out of the depression! Young people everywhere danced the swing, the jitterbug, and the boogie woogie to the music of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Louie Armstrong.

Indoors, parlor games such as bridge and the ingenious “Monopoly” were popular. People read more, and circulation at local public libraries increased. Kids loved comic books, especially “Superman,” the world’s first comic book superhero. Books “condensed” by Reader’s Digest saved time and money. There was an intense interest in epic novels — Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth,” A.J. Cronin’s “The Citadel,” Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” — as well as such how-to books as Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” (1937, with 17 printings right away).

In the same year, Lin Yutang, the Chinese-American Taoist, published “The Importance of Living,” which was to become especially popular among libertarians. It encouraged Americans to stop worrying and start “letting go.” One chapter was entitled “The Art of Loafing.” “I am quite sure,” Lin wrote, “that amidst the hustle and bustle of American life, there is a great deal of wistfulness, of the divine desire to lie on a plot of grass under tall beautiful trees of an idle afternoon and just do nothing.” Whether fortunately or unfortunately, in their own opinion, millions of Americans got to live Lin’s upbeat message of idleness.

New Entertainments

Idleness — and its companion, entertainment. People wanted to forget their troubles, and radio and motion pictures provided an escape. Radio really came of age during this period, with up to 80 million listeners on some evenings. There was a lot more to radio than FDR’s fireside chats. It was the way to hear worldwide news bulletins, good music, and such half-hour comedies as “Amos ’n’ Andy,” the first syndicated program, and “The Jack Benny Show.” In the late 1930s, NBC was carrying broadcasts of symphony orchestras, especially its own orchestra, conducted by the immortal Arturo Toscanini, to 10 million listeners every week. And who can forget the night of Sunday, October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles broadcast his version of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”?

Hollywood blossomed during the ’30s. In one decade, the motion picture industry went from silent films to talkies in Technicolor. Films brought the American public together as never before. Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, and Clark Gable were welcome alternatives to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and other demagogues of the era. Many considered Shirley Temple a gift from God during the gloomy de-pression. The motion picture event of 1938 was the first full-length animated cartoon, Walt Disney’s “Snow White.” The same year saw one of the first films in Technicolor, the blockbuster “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn. A burst of classic award-winning films came out the next year, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and the greatest of all epic films, “Gone With the Wind.”

The ’30s was the era of the first great horror films, “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and “King Kong.” For a dime, Americans could go to the Saturday matinee and see double features of cowboys, adventurers, and gangsters. The silver screen brought us science fiction, serial thrillers and the Singing Cowboy (Gene Autry). The theater was filled with humor — Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, the Three Stooges. Americans would laugh their way out of the depres-sion! There were reasons why Chicago economist Robert Lucas, Jr., called the 1930s “one long vacation.”

New Technology

Alvin Hansen and other Keynesian economists developed their “stagnation thesis” in the late 1930s, arguing that the United States was indefinitely stuck in an economic rut. They claimed that there was no new technology, no new frontier to drive the American economy. They ignored the tremendous economic progress that took place throughout the depression — the invention of plastics, artificial fibers, plywood, the 2-cycle diesel engine, and lighter, tougher steels.

Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll invented the electron microscope in 1932. Howard Armstrong created FM radio in 1933. Wallace Carothers manufactured nylon, and Robert A. Watson-Watt discovered radar in 1935. Hans Pabst von Ohain developed the jet engine in 1937 and the first jet airplane in 1939. Chester Carlson originated xerography in 1938. Igor Sikorsky made the first practical helicopter in 1939. Several people, including Philo T. Farnsworth and Isaac Shoenberg, developed television in the 1930s. CBS and NBC began broadcasting TV during this decade.

Manufacturers weren’t idle in getting new technology to market. New household products included electric mixers, pop-up toasters, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and irons. For the first time, consumers enjoyed sliced bread and packaged frozen foods. Union Pacific came out with fancy new streamlined, air-conditioned trains. Mass-market automobiles could now accelerate to 60 mph, carrying passengers along new highways with underpasses and cloverleafs. The dirigible, a new form of air transportation, appeared in 1936 (but disappeared with the fiery destruction of the Hindenberg a year later). The Douglas DC3 came out in 1936, traveling at 200 mph, compared to the 1932 passenger airplane speed of 110 mph. Coast-to-coast travel in overnight air sleepers was now possible. New ocean liners, such as the Queen Mary, appeared in a crowded New York harbor. Everyone came to witness the building of the 102-story Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center (the only skyscraper group to rise in the 1930s). And who could not marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge, opened to traffic on May 28, 1937?

Social historian Frederick Lewis Allen, author of “Only Yesterday” (1931), a bestselling history of the 1920s, summed it up best when he wrote in a sequel, “Since Yesterday” (1940), “the American imagination was beginning to break loose again.” At the end of the decade, the New York World’s Fair had as its theme “The World of Tomorrow.”

Society and Economics

The depression brought about a change in American social trends. People attended church more. Many retreated from the sexual revolution of the roaring ’20s. The mood was more somber and prudent, even after Prohibition was repealed in December 1933. (By the end of the decade, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded.) There was greater approval of marriage and family life. The divorce rate dropped sharply, by 23% from 1929 to 1932, though so did the marriage rate and the birth rate — possibly because marriage and children cost money.

Not all economic news was bad. The most favorable statistic was the decline in the cost of living. During the period 1929–32, retail prices dropped by an average 24%, wholesale prices by 31%, farm prices by 51%, and raw commodity prices by 42%. Of course, wages, salaries, dividends, and other forms of income declined as well, but for those who kept their jobs and held onto their assets, the loss of nominal income was offset by sharply lower prices for all consumer products. “Everything was all right in those years,” said a woman quoted in Amity Shlaes’ book, “but only if you had a job.”

Unemployment reached 25% and higher in some regions at the depths of the depression, causing enormous hardship for millions of Americans. But see it in another light: three out of every four people were employed in the worst parts of the depression. Total employment rose after 1932, reaching 90% by the end of the decade. In a sense, the Democrats were right: happy days were here again!

Businesses adjusted to the new deflation by downsizing, cutting costs, and implementing labor-saving devices. Even the farming industry mechanized. By 1936, despite persistent unemployment, real national output had nearly recovered to pre-depression levels. Auto sales exceeded all previous years except 1928–29. The steel industry was operating at close to capacity. Even the building industry was climbing briskly. Miami was having its best season since the collapse of the Florida land boom. The race tracks were crowded, lavish debutante parties flourished in the big cities, and the night clubs were full.

For bulls and bears alike, the 1930s was the most fantastic period in stock market history. Stock prices collapsed between 1929 and 1932, losing an average 88%, but industrial, rail, and utility stocks all shot up from their lows in the summer of 1932, anticipating the end of hard times. Few bull markets have ever equaled the rocket performance of the summer of 1932, when the rails tripled within eight weeks and the utility averages doubled. Wall Street went on a rampage for the next four years. The Dow rose 67% in 1933, 4% in 1934, 38% in 1935, and 25% in 1936. After a sharp 32% correction in 1937, the market re-sumed its upward trend until war broke out in Europe in September, 1939. There were also plenty of speculative opportunities on the long side of gold and other natural resource stocks during the ’30s. In sum, the bulls, not just the bears, had plenty of chances to make money in the 1930s.

There’s an old saying, “It is the irritation in the oyster that forms the pearl.” The Great Depression was an irritation that most people didn’t expect. A few people couldn’t take the hard times and jumped out of windows, but most responded to the challenge. Adversity often demonstrates the virtue and creativity of humankind. Bad news often creates good news and opportunities to learn and advance. The 1930s were no exception.

Mark Skousen is the author of Economic Logic, now available in its second edition.