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BERKELEY – Alla fine del 2008, allorché divenne chiaro che l’economia globale era diretta verso una catastrofe, pericolosa almeno quanto quella che aveva dato avvio alla Grande Depressione, ero preoccupato, ma anche speranzoso. Dopo tutto, si trattava di qualcosa che avevamo già visto. E avevamo anche un modello per mitigare i danni; purtroppo, i politici se ne sono dimenticati.

Nei tre anni e mezzo successivi all’inizio della Grande Depressione, la priorità del presidente americano Herbert Hoover era stata quella di riequilibrare il bilancio, nel tentativo - alla fine fallito – di ridare fiducia alle imprese. Nel 1933, il presidente neo eletto Franklin D. Roosevelt cambiò rotta, adottando una strategia semplice ma radicale: provare qualsiasi cosa che fosse in grado di stimolare la domanda, aumentare la produzione, e ridurre la disoccupazione - e poi continuare a perseguire le misure che si mostravano efficaci.

Roosevelt abbandonò i tentativi di riequilibrare il bilancio, aumentando invece l’offerta di moneta, e promuovendo il disavanzo di spesa. Condusse così gli Stati Uniti fuori dalla “regola d’oro”, facendo in modo che il governo assumesse direttamente i lavoratori, e offrendo garanzie per quanti erano in pericolo di perdere la propria casa. Egli cartellizzò l’industria petrolifera ed istituì politiche antitrust aggressive per eliminare i monopoli.

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