I know some of you are off on spring break. I also know some of you teach American History and may be about to jump into the Great Depression. For you I have some links to help you emphasize the economics.
The first is from the latest issue of Policy Review, a publication of the Hoover Institution. The article lays much of the blame at the steps of the Federal Reserve. It basically restates the position of the late Milton Friedman that the Depression was the result of miscues and errors on the part of the central bank. (The then "16 year-old" central bank - and as I like to point out, how many 16 year-olds do you know that never make mistakes?) There really is nothing new here. And since Chairman Bernanke apologized to Milton Friedman at a special dinner a few years back, there's really nothing controversial here. But the piece is clear and well-written. And if you're not familiar with the argument, it provides a good summary for an aspect that many textbooks don't cover.
The second source is an interview with Harvard economist Robert Barro on the Five Books web site. (HT to Greg Mankiw.) Barro talks about his research on the Great Depression and names five books he feels are important to understanding it. They are not beach reading. But for those of us who are really into the subject, they present a good set of additions to the bookshelf. (I already have one.)
If you're off, enjoy the break. If you're not, enjoy yourself anyway.