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How a radical interpretation of the Great Depression became the orthodoxy behind solving the COVID crisis

By Mary O'Sullivan, Professor of Economic History and Director of the Department of History, Economics and Society, Université de Genève
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At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, US Federal Reserve System governor Jerome Powell made an extraordinary declaration: “We’re not going to run out of ammunition.” The central bank stood ready to take any action necessary to stem the mounting economic crisis. Three months later, the Fed injected nearly US$3 trillion dollars of liquidity into the US economy.

Such radical action by central banks – quantitative easing (QE) – has its critics on the right and left. Just as striking is that many prominent economists and economic historians have rallied

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