With a Bang and a Whimper

With a Bang and a Whimper

THE GREAT CRASH, 1929, by John Kenneth Galbraith. Houghton, Mifflin Co., Boston. 1955. 212 pages. $3.00.

When John Kenneth Galbraith, the noted Harvard economist, testified recently before the friendly Fulbright committee on the condition of the stock market, prices took an uncomfortably familiar tumble. Mr. Galbraith had been quite stern and warned that we were behaving exactly as our fathers did in 1929. If one were to be uncharitable, all this might be credited to the fertile brain of some publicity man anxious to see that Mr. Galbraith’s new book received a proper audience. However, such a stunt would have been quite unnecessary, for Wall Street’s current spree must itself raise the ghost of Black Thursday: Mr. Galbraith merely underscores in this eminently readable history events that may very well haunt us once more.

The great American capacity for self delusion is unchanged, says Mr. Galbraith, and he is convinced that speculation could still run riot despite all the built-in stabilizers installed in the last 25 years. Present day behavior on the part of several thousand “lambs” gives sufficient reason to suspect that at least in this regard he is right.