Richard S. Grossman on "Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Them"

Lunch and Learn Series

Richard S. Grossman on \Photo credit: Bill Burkhart

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM

In recent years, the world has been rocked by major economic crises, most notably the devastating collapse of Lehman Brothers. It was the largest bankruptcy in American history, and it triggered the breathtakingly destructive sub-prime disaster. What sparks vast economic calamities? Why do our economic policy makers fail to protect us from such upheavals?

In Wrong, economist Richard S. Grossman addresses these questions, shining a light on the poor thinking behind nine of the worst economic policy mistakes of the past 200 years. Grossman tells the story behind each misconceived economic move, explaining why the policy was adopted, how it was implemented, and its short and long-term consequences. In each case, he shows that the main culprits were policy makers who were guided by ideology rather than economics. For instance, Grossman discusses how America's unfounded fear of a centralized monetary authority caused them to reject two central banks, condemning the nation to wave after wave of financial panics. He describes how Britain's blind commitment to free markets, rather than to assisting the starving in Ireland, led to the Irish famine. He also explains how Britain's reestablishment of the gold standard after World War I, fuelled largely by a desire to recapture its pre-war dominance, helped to turn what would otherwise have been a normal recession into the Great Depression. In addition, Grossman explores the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, Japan's lost decade of the 1990s, the American subprime crisis, and the present European sovereign debt crisis.

Economic policy should be based on cold, hard economic analysis, Grossman concludes, not on an unquestioning commitment to a particular ideology. Wrong shows what happens when this sensible advice is ignored.

About the Author
Richard S. Grossman is Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. He is the author of Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800.

Talk will be followed by Q&A and book signing. $5 tickets may be purchased online or at the door and include Museum admission. Museum members and students are admitted free of charge. Feel free to bring your lunch. Register online, or contact Tempris Small at for more information.