Robber Barons In The Gilded Age

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The charge about the old days of the American economy—the nineteenth century, the “Gilded Age,” the era of the “robber barons”—was that it was always beset by a cycle of boom and bust. Whatever nice runs of expansion and opportunity that did come, they always seemed to be coupled with a pretty cataclysmic depression right around the corner. Boom and bust, boom and bust—this was the necessary pattern of the American economy in its primitive state. In the US, in the modern era, all this was smoothed out. There were busts, above all the Great Depression, but these represented the last gasp of the old order. Since the rise of the governmental sector as a major component of the economy at the time of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, federal institutions,
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