Summary of Hall of Mirrors

The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses – and Misuses – of History

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Hall of Mirrors book summary
The seminal financial crises of the past century bear striking similarities.


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Economist Barry Eichengreen presents an exhaustive study of the two great financial crises of the past century, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. From Federal Reserve rate cuts to housing bubbles to European currency crises, Eichengreen leads a comprehensive tour of two seminal periods. With the benefit of hindsight, he debunks a few popular myths. While plainly knowledgeable and a clear communicator, Eichengreen isn’t always the most helpful guide. Serious students of economics may already be familiar with much of the ground he covers, while lay readers could struggle to make sense of his sometimes-dense prose and jargony references to “macro-prudential policy” and “dissaving.” getAbstract recommends his substantive history to investors and policy makers who are conversant with these issues and who seek additional insight into markets, US history and economic policy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What similarities the Great Depression and the Great Recession shared
  • How governments responded to both crises
  • How the fallout varied


Similar Crashes, Decades Apart
When global markets crashed in 2008, central bankers insisted they already had learned the lessons of the Great Depression. Where 1930s-vintage bankers were slow to act, modern economists slashed interest rates and pumped liquidity into the markets. The official...
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About the Author

Barry Eichengreen is a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include Exorbitant Privilege and Golden Fetters.

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