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BERKELEY – Quando, no fim de 2008, se tornou claro que a economia global se dirigia para um crash pelo menos tão perigoso como o que iniciara a Grande Depressão, fiquei alarmado, mas também esperançoso. Afinal, já tínhamos visto tudo isto. E também tínhamos um modelo para como mitigar os danos; infelizmente, os legisladores deixaram-no na prateleira.

Durante os três anos e meio que se seguiram ao início da Grande Depressão, a maior prioridade do Presidente dos EUA, Herbert Hoover, consistia em equilibrar o orçamento, tentando – mas acabando por falhar – restaurar a confiança das empresas. Em 1933, o recém-eleito Presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt alterou o rumo, adoptando uma estratégia simples, mas radical: tentar tudo o que pudesse impulsionar a procura, aumentar a produção, ou reduzir o desemprego – e depois insistir nas coisas que funcionam.

Roosevelt abandonou as tentativas para equilibrar o orçamento, aumentou a oferta de moeda, e iniciou o défice orçamental público. Retirou os Estados Unidos do padrão-ouro, fez com que o governo contratar trabalhadores directamente, e ofereceu garantias aos empréstimos de quem estava em perigo de perder as suas casas. Cartelizou a indústria petrolífera e instituiu agressivas políticas de defesa da concorrência (NdT: antitrust, no original) para desagregar os monopólios.

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