Posterity is watching carefully as Shinzo Abe goes ahead with a sales-tax increase aimed at getting a handle on Japan’s huge debt burden, the world’s largest. Unfortunately history may judge him no better than Ryutaro Hashimoto, the last Japanese prime minister to kill an economic recovery with ill-timed fiscal tightening.
Today the world’s attention is focused on Damascus, Syria, and its chemical weapons. Thirty- three years ago events in Damascus, Arkansas -- also home to weapons of mass destruction -- mesmerized the globe.
As the Depression hit after the crash of October 1929, Edmund Wilson felt the ground under his feet give way. During the 1920s, he had made his name as a leading literary critic, a cheerleader for ambitious new writing who had helped bring the difficult Modernists of Europe to an American audience.
In late August 1932, George Foster Peabody, a major figure in railway and electric-power development, wrote a letter to the New York Times, criticizing President Herbert Hoover's response to the Great Depression. Peabody’s conclusion was stark: “I am thus thoroughly convinced that Mr. Hoover is incompetent.”
In economic circles, no slight stings more than being compared to Herbert Hoover. The 31st U.S. president, who helped make the Depression of the 1930s great, ranks among history’s worst growth killers.
As we approach another general election, it will be interesting to see how the economic performance of Democrats is judged. If voters borrow the preferred method of John Kerry and other Democrats from 2004, Barack Obama will be revealed to be among the worst presidents in history.