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Millmow on the Australian response to the 1930s depression


Alex Millmow's The Power of Economic Ideas has been a long time coming and its contents are already well known to Antipodean historians of economic thought. The book is the result of Millmow devoting the lion's share of his working life to reconstructing the way in which Australian economists in the 1930s formed a coherent theoretical and policy framework to mitigate the social and economic dislocation that defined Australia's second great depression. We have been drip-fed its contents for a decade with a parade of sound articles by Millmow in the History of Economics Review (and elsewhere) and conference papers delivered (with his typical verve) at local HETSA meetings; earlier manifestations of the narrative circulated freely for some time via the now ubiquitous web-link; and the PhD manuscript on which the book is based won the 2005 bi-annual HETSA prize for best doctoral dissertation. Dedicated readers have vetted its hypotheses, countless referees have probed its archival credentials, speakers from the conference floor have shaved the more daring and speculative of its claims, and multiple examiners have carefully weighed and assessed its numerous protocol statements. The final issue of these slowly revolving cogs of, now dated, scholarly machinery - made positively antediluvian in the face of supervisors from nearby disciplines proudly pumping out phenomenologically-driven PhDs by the thousand (and, without shame, breathlessly adding 'do you know he completed it within two years of starting') - is remarkably free from even minor errors. The author, his supervisor (Selwyn Cornish), the institution that placed its imprimatur on the dissertation (ANU), the society creating the scholarly milieu for the evolution of the ideas lying therein (HETSA), and the publisher (ANU E-Press) should be proud of the final product (even if the last should have insisted on an index for a tome that entails a cast of thousands and tortuous events that ripple out in every direction). And if the undergraduate students under the charge of all of these people did not suffer in the process, this is how it should be.


economists, international business enterprises, economic history

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