Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression

Photo Source WPA poster 1935 | CC BY 2.0

On November 27th, I wrote an article on how FDR’s long-standing racism accounted for the detention of Japanese-Americans rather than security concerns following Pearl Harbor.  I also noted in brief that it was WWII rather than the New Deal that ended the Great Depression. That prompted an email to CounterPunch editors taking exception to this somewhat secondary point that they shared with me. While not divulging the author’s name, I will share what he wrote:

Yes, WWII effectively ended the Great Depression on 8 Dec. 41—i.e., the day after Pearl Harbor. But FDR’s policies were working before 7 Dec., and Mr. Proyect should know that. The benefits of the New Deal were relatively quick. By 1936, the U.S. was well on the way to recovery—not overnight, but steady recovery. Unfortunately, at that point, Congress convinced him the Depression was ending and U.S. government stimulus policies no longer were needed. Economic data clearly shows the progress being made. However, as the stimulus policies were cut back, the U.S. slid back into the Great Depression, and economic data show an economy as deeply in depression as it was in 1932. In fact, some of the economic data actually is worse for 1937 that it was in 1932. FDR learned from the and returned to strong Federal economic stimulus policies. The economy quickly began to turn around, once more beginning the climb out of the Great Depression. This upward economic movement…

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