Economy

Foreign trade—import and export alike—has been indispensable in building America from the very start, and many of our worst economic troubles have arisen when that trade wasn’t free enough. A historic overview.

It is not a coincidence that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and what would one day be the world’s wealthiest nation should both have burst upon the global scene in 1776. Read more >>

For years people have argued that France had the real revolution and that ours was mild by comparison. But now a powerful new book says the American Revolution was the most sweeping in all history. It alone established a pure commercial culture—a culture that makes America the universal society we are today.

The French Revolution followed American independence by six years, but it was the later event that went into the books as “the Great Revolution” and became the revolutionary archetype. Read more >>

As long as there have been bankers and brokers, there have been people asking what would happen if they had to earn an honest living

On October 26, 1911, the old Life magazine published a cartoon entitled “When We All Get Wise.” The implication of the cartoon, of course, was that if the ordinary people of the country would “just say no,” this time to bankers, brokers, and capi Read more >>

At its roots lie fundamental tensions that have bedeviled American banking since the nation began

Bank failure is as American as apple pie. Read more >>

Two hundred years ago the United States was a weakling republic prostrate beneath a ruinous national debt. Then Alexander Hamilton worked the miracle of fiscal imagination that made America a healthy young economic giant. How did he do it?

One price of political greatness is to be forced to campaign even long after death. The Founding Fathers, particularly, have been constantly dragged from their graves for partisan purposes. Read more >>

It cannot be measured in dollars alone. It involved a kind of personal power no man of affairs will ever have again.

On the night of Thursday, October 24, 1907, nearly every important banker in New York was meeting in J. P. Morgan’s exquisite private library, located next to his house at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Thirty-sixth Street. Read more >>

Why do you need so much money to be rich nowadays? It’s a question that historians and readers of history have always found difficult to answer.

At a time when many are concerned by the nation’s loss of the unassailable economic position it occupied just after World War II, one historian argues that our real strength—and our real peril—lie elsewhere

We know more about sickness than about health. This is as true of medicine as it is of history, and as true of the condition of a nation as it is of a person. Moreover, the diagnosis must proceed not only from symptoms but from retrospect. Read more >>
In June 1984 I got an odd call from an editor at The Wall Street Journal. I had submitted an article that marked the one hundredth anniversary of the first publication of Charles Dow’s stock-market average. Read more >>

All through the 1920s eager young emigrants left the towns and farms of America and headed for New York City. One of them recalls the magnetism of the life that pulled him there.

And still they come. Read more >>

It depends on whose interpretation of both history and the current crisis you believe. For one of America’s most prominent supply-side economists, the answer is yes.

Jude Wanniski was among the early leaders in the revival of supply-side economic theory. Read more >>

You Asked for It

When American Heritage suggested last year that I put together the article that became “101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know about American History,” I accepted the assignment eagerly. Read more >>

One hundred years ago many thoughtful people predicted the decline and disappearance of capitalism. What happened to make their prophecy wrong?

People nowadays interchange gifts and favors out of friendship,” says a character speaking from the vantage point of the year 2000 in Edward Bellamy’s 1888 novel, Looking Backward, “but buying and selling is considered absolute Read more >>

While New York families were spending fortunes inherited from fathers and grandfathers, the Chicago rich had to start from scratch, both making and lavishly spending money within one generation

A distinguished American poet recalls one of his more unusual jobs

When I was twenty-five, I spent a year tutoring the son of the king of Siam and his friend, the son of the Siamese prime minister. Fifty-five years later I am still filled with wonder when I think about it. Read more >>

The crisis swept over France and Germany and Britain alike—and they all nearly foundered. Now more than ever, it is important to remember it didn’t just happen here.

Back in 1955 John Kenneth Galbraith called the Great Depression of the 1930s “the most momentous economic occurrence in the history of the United States,” and thirty-odd years later that judgment, recorded in Galbraith’s best seller, The Great Crash Read more >>

The most influential economist in the United States talks about prudence, productivity, and the pursuit of liquidity in the light of the past

TWENTY YEARS AGO , the American economy hummed like a well-oiled machine. We actually exported automobiles and oil. Read more >>

A Graphic Treatment

The Department of Labor first began publishing a Cost of Living Index in 1919. Since then this measurement of the prices of the goods and services used by ordinary people in their day-to-day lives has been many times modified and refined. Read more >>

A REMARKABLE SOCIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENT SHOWED YOU COULD DO IT—IF YOU COULD STAND IT

In 1893 Chicago played host to a World’s Fair that rivaled the Paris Exposition of 1889 for splendor and exceeded all previous fairs in magnitude. Read more >>

Today’s city, for all its ills, is “cleaner, less crowded, safer, and more livable than its turn-of-the-century counterpart,” argues this eminent urban historian. Yet two new problems are potentially fatal. …

More than a decade ago the phrase “urban crisis” crept into our public conversation. Since then it has become a cliché, connoting a wide range of persistent and dangerous problems confronting our cities. Read more >>

Where Is Henry George Now That We Need Him?

He had the answer—he believed it, and he persuaded millions of others to believe it, too. Read more >>

Veblen’s ideas on the effect of wealth on behavior were penetrating, original and, to the dismay of his contemporaries, highly uninhibited.

In a society grown steadily more affluent over two centuries, the existence of the poor has raised some baffling questions and surprising answers

From the opening decades of the nineteenthcentury toourownday, Americans’ persistent efforts to understand the causes and conditions of poverty have fixed upon the word “paradox.” Writing in 1822, the managers of one early reform organization, the Society for the Prevention of Read more >>