Economists as diverse in approach as Lord Keynes and Milton Friedman have analyzed the causes of the Great Depression, and their answers have ranged from underconsumption to failings in monetary policy. In Part 1 of the Great Depression, Christian Saint-Etienne compares these theories with economic statistics for the interwar period and adds a further explanation: a collapse in international trade initiated by the Hawley-Smoot Tariff in the United States. Part 2 studies the economic history of the 1970s and the early 1980s to assess the likelhood of a depression in the 1980s. Among the author's recommendations for preventing a recurrence are free trade, reform of the international banking system, and coordination of the monetary policies of the major industrial nations.
"Tariff restrictions were increasingly complemented by administrative measures, such as prohibitions, quotas, licensing systems, and clearing agreements. . . . Protectionism only led to a reduction in international trade, affecting all trading nations to a comparable extent, whether they initiated the trade war or merely retaliated. . . . It is clear that the collapse of international trade in the Depression made international recovery virtually impossible for a decade."