Choose one of two prompts and write a solid essay

Choose one of two prompts and write a solid essay:

Option 1: Many have pointed to the Great Depression as strong evidence that market

economies, if left on their own, will sometimes get stuck in periods of low growth and high

unemployment. Others have claimed that the Great Depression was primarily a policy failure

and that government attempts to fix business cycle downturns only delay the economy’s

natural recovery. To what extent do you think the above viewpoints are valid? Was the Great

Depression primarily a failure of markets or a failure of government? What does the Great

Depression teach us about the role of government in dealing with business cycles?

Option 2: Most economists agree that competition between firms in general produces

outcomes that are beneficial for consumers. However, profit maximizing firms have incentive to

drive out competitors and increase their market power to drive up prices. Should governments

work to reduce monopoly power and push industries toward perfect competition? To what

extent has United States history demonstrated the need for government action to reduce firms

market power?


1. Take a stand – your thesis statement must clearly comment on your view of government’s

role in the economy in either of the two applications above. You do not have to strongly

land on one side or the other. For example, you can argue that government has a role in

responding to business cycles but the specific policies in the New Deal were not well

designed or that the fiscal policy is not necessary but monetary policy is, etc. (these are

just a couple examples). Most importantly, you must have a consistent position that you

argue throughout the essay

2. Your essay must demonstrate understanding of both sides of the issue and contextualize

the debate both historically and theoretically. Although you need to argue your own point of

view, it should also be clear that you understand arguments of people who disagree with


3. You should use some of the concepts and sources we have talked about in class, but your

essay must reference at least two sources other than those cited in the slides or

posted on CCLE. For this essay, pure data sources will not count towards the two

(although can definitely still be used as additional evidence for your argument). I want to

make sure you do some research to see what some other people have thought about these


4. For either question, stick to historical evidence as much as possible. For example, in the

Great Depression question do not talk about the Great Recession or Covid and in the

market power question do not talk about Google and Amazon. You can (and should) talk

about more general theoretical justifications in either case, but I want the focus of the

examples in the essay to be primarily on historical events in the United States. Try to focus

on examples before 1950.

Here are some sources that should help:…………    (the second section of this “II”) talks about how competition promotes dynamic markets and why it is important which is key to the prompt

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