Three of the arguments made by Temin (2008) in his review of Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century are demonstrably wrong: that the treatment of the data in the volume is cursory; that the definition of great depressions is too general and, in particular, groups slow growth experiences in Latin America in the 1980s with far more severe great depressions in Europe in the 1930s; and that the book is an advertisement for the real business cycle methodology. Without these three arguments — which are the results of obvious conceptual and arithmetical errors, including copying the wrong column of data from a source — his review says little more than that he does not think it appropriate to apply our dynamic general equilibrium methodology to the study of great depressions, and he does not like the conclusion that we draw: that a successful model of a great depression needs to be able to account for the effects of government policy on productivity.
In 2008, Peter Temin wrote a review of the book that appeared in the Journal of Economic Literature. This staff report and accompanying data file are in response to the review.
Citation for review: Temin, Peter. 2008. "Real Business Cycle Views of the Great Depression and Recent Events: A Review of Timothy J. Kehoe and Edward C. Prescott's Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century." Journal of Economic Literature, 46 (3): 669-84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.46.3.669
Each chapter of the book is accompanied by a data file that contains all of the data used in the analysis. This collection also provides links to computer programs for applying the methodology.
The worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s was a watershed for both economic thought and economic policymaking. It led to the belief that market economies are inherently unstable and to the revolutionary work of John Maynard Keynes. Its impact on popular economic wisdom is still apparent today.
This book, which uses a common framework to study sixteen depressions, from the interwar period in Europe and America as well as from more recent times in Japan and Latin America, challenges the Keynesian theory of depressions. It develops and uses a methodology for studying depressions that relies on growth accounting and the general equilibrium growth model.