Myth: The Great Recession was caused by free-market policies that led to irrational risk taking on Wall Street. Reality: The Great Recession could not have happened without the vast web of government subsidies and controls that distorted financial markets.
Myth: Finance was deregulated during the 1980s and 1990s, laying the groundwork for the 2008 financial crisis. Reality: Although some financial regulations were rolled back during the late 20th century, the overall trend was toward increased government control.
The Myth: New Deal regulation of the financial system made the system safer. The Reality: New Deal regulation of the financial system failed to address the real source of the problems that led to the Great Depression and laid the foundation for future crises.
The Myth: An unregulated free market and unrestricted Wall Street greed caused the Great Depression and only the interventionist policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt got us out. The Reality: The Great Depression was caused by government intervention, above all a financial system controlled by America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve — and the interventionist policies of Hoover and FDR only made things worse.
The Myth: We tried free banking and the result was constant bank runs and panics. The Federal Reserve was created to make the system stable and it succeeded. The Reality: America’s recurrent panics were the product of financial control, and there is no evidence the Federal Reserve has made things better.
Now that Trump is in office there is talk that his administration will support repealing or revising Dodd-Frank — the government’s regulatory response to the financial crisis of 2008. The bill was sold as a way to protect ourselves from future crises by making the financial system more stable.
In trying to make a valid point — that the left has wrongly portrayed Rand as the central intellectual influence on conservatives — Kevin D. Williamson goes a bridge too far, trying to pretend that fondness for Rand’s work is the exception among conservatives rather than the rule.
At ARI, we have caught a lot of flak for our criticisms of Donald Trump. In particular, there was a lot of blowback for Onkar Ghate’s essay “One Small Step for Dictatorship: The Significance of Donald Trump’s Election.” Some people wrongly saw the piece as an attack on anyone who voted for Trump.