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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Most recessions are a result of some shock to the economic system, typically amplified by financial accelerators, and leading to large, persistent balance sheet effects on households and firms. Over time, however, the balance sheets get restored. Even banks recover. But episodically, the ‘shock’ is deeper. It is structural. Among advanced countries, such large economic transformations include the movement from agriculture to manufacturing (completed in the twentieth century), and the more recent movement from manufacturing to the service sector. The associated downturns are longer lasting. The usual tools for restoring growth, particularly monetary policy, are of only limited efficacy. Policies have to be designed to facilitate such transformations: markets on their own typically do not do well. This chapter explains why such transformations are associated with persistently high unemployment, and what kinds of government policies are needed. It looks at the lessons of the Great Depression both for the advanced countries and the developing countries today as they go through their structural transformations.

Keywords: structural transformation, economic downturn, unemployment, government policy, Great Depression, agrarian economy, manufacturing, markets, politics, recession

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