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Enlivened by clear-cut disagreement between the speakers whose views were Keynesian in essence, and those who opposed the views of the English economist, the Dunster House Forum on Post-War Economic Collapse? was held last night before an audience of more than 200.
Professor Sidney B. Fay '96 presided over the meeting. Dean John H. Williams of the Littauer School, Professor O. M. W. Sprague '96 of the Business School, and Professors Alvin Hansen, Seymour Harris '20, Gottfried Haberler, and O. H. Taylor of the Department of Economics delivered short addresses. Then the floor was thrown open to questions and comments from the listeners.
Williams, Hansen and Harris took the position that the cessation of United States armament outlays would constitute a severe shock to the economy after the European war was ended. The best way to mitigate the shock would be for the Government to embark on a program of directed, controlled deficit financing. During the armament boom, the national debt can be expected to rise, but this fact should not be permitted to interfere with rational methods of dealing with a possible post-war depression.
That in the stimulation of private investment lay the hope for post-war stability was the opinion of Sprague. To some extent Haberler and Taylor shared this view. If the high taxes are laid now on the sale of automobiles, then fewer cars will be bought.
Demand for Cars
After the war, the accumulated demand for new cars will ease the transition from the war to a peace economy. If large-scale borrowing, and high taxes to pay interest on the resultant debt, are used, then businessmen will be discouraged, will not increase their output of goods and their investment in new capital after the war.
The discussion of the possible effects of an astronomical public debt brought heated comment from the oldest living Harvard graduate, Charles N. Fay '69.
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