Het zomerboekenlijstje voor de Europese leiders

BERKELEY – In augustus gaan de Europeanen naar het strand. Het continent sluit de zaken af, in de veronderstelling dat er niets belangrijks zal gebeuren voordat iedereen in september weer lekker gebruind naar huis zal terugkeren. Daarbij wordt voor het gemak maar even vergeten dat de subprimecrisis in augustus 2007 plaatsvond of – dichter bij huis – de Europese monetaire crisis in augustus 1992: de augustusvakantie is immers een heilige traditie. Wat zouden de Europeanen dit jaar onder hun parasolletjes moeten lezen?

Bovenaan de lijst hoort A Monetary History of the United States van Milton Friedman en Anna Schwartz te staan. De kern van hun pakkende verhaal is een hoofdstuk over de Grote Depressie, waarin de US Federal Reserve Board (de Fed, het federale stelsel van Amerikaanse centrale banken) ervan langs krijgt wegens het niet adequaat reageren op de oplopende crisis.

Alom wordt gedacht dat Friedman en Schwartz de Fed vooral ter verantwoording hebben geroepen voor het niet tijdig reageren op een serie opeenvolgende bankfaillissementen, eerst eind 1930 en daarna nog eens in 1931 en 1933. Maar als je de tekst goed leest, kom je tot de conclusie dat de auteurs hun zwaarste kritiek bewaren voor het feit dat de Fed er niet in is geslaagd om in het eerste halfjaar van 1930 een samenhangend programma van obligatie-aankopen te doen, teneinde deze faillissementen te voorkomen.

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