A historian’s take on Trump’s economic plan for blue-collar, manufacturing jobs

By Paul Solman – November 11, 2016

PBS Newshour

Editor’s Note: What is President-elect Donald Trump’s plan for the economy? Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with Columbia University’s Adam Tooze to discuss. An economic historian, Tooze gives much needed historical perspective to Trump’s economic plan as put forward by his economic adviser Peter Navarro on Real Clear Policy.

PAUL SOLMAN: You’ve read Donald Trump’s so-called Gettysburg address, his economic program. [In late October, Trump spoke to supporters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address over 150 years ago.] Historically, what does it remind you of?

ADAM TOOZE: I think as a historian, what strikes one the most about this program is simply its nationalism. Thinking about the record of American economic programs, it strikes me as perhaps the most nationalist in tone and in spirit that we’ve seen in the U.S. since the so-called isolationism of the Republicans in the 1920s.

PAUL SOLMAN: The Roaring Twenties was a period of enormous economic growth in the United States.

ADAM TOOZE: Absolutely, it was also a period of a rebound from an enormous war, so the growth is not altogether surprising, but it was growth that was also unstable and that came crashing down in 1929 in the Great Depression. And it was a period in which America’s economic policy was, from the point of view of the wider world, unhelpful, some would even say irresponsible, in failing to figure out the implications of America’s policy on trade, its policy on migration and its policy on foreign investment as well as the implications of those policies for Europe and Asia in the 1920s. And so in that respect, too, one is worried, perhaps, about the historical parallels.

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