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A. R. F. Webber's Modernity 1

By Selwyn R. Cudjoe2
January 17, 2009

Webber's views on economics and economic management as they related to his home country, British Guiana, were ahead of his time in two critical aspects viz: anti-recession policy and currency arrangements. While he was not an economist by training his clear understanding of economic phenomena and his passion for the welfare of his people led him to propose solutions that were out of sync with the colonial policy makers but which became mainstream immediately after his death and remain relevant today.

—Ewart Williams, "A. R. F. Webber and Contemporary Economics"
On December 1, 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed that the United States economy has been in recession since December 2007. In November 2008 the German economy went into recession after its GDP fell by 0.5 percent in the three months prior to September, following a 0.4 percent drop in the previous quarter. Two weeks later, Japan's economy, the second largest in the world, also went into recession.3 In December the eurozone plunged into recession "putting the 15-country region on course to report its worst quarter on record so far."4 On January 4, 2009, Paul Krugman, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, arrived at the sobering conclusion: "Recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just for the United States but around the world. . . . This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression."5 It is no wonder that when the G20 group of nations arrived in Washington, D.C., on November 15 to discuss the world's financial crisis it was generally agreed that they had to coordinate their efforts if they wished to rescue the world's economy from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929.

In hindsight, contemporary leaders recognize that the Great Depression lasted such a long time because no one country acted (or wanted to act) as the global stabilizer. This time around, the leaders of the twenty largest economies decided to act sooner rather than later to prevent a repetition of what happened 90 years ago. Recognizing the implausibility of a club of eight rich nations (the so-called democracies) running (or was it ruining) the world, President George Bush invited nations such as Brazil, China, and India to join in the deliberations. An editorial in the Financial Times observed that it is "only by including these countries will it be possible to find a way out of the current crisis and agree on long-term reform of the global financial architecture."6

Although there are many similarities between the Great Depression and the 2008 recession, there is a noteworthy difference. While the Great Depression occurred outside the shores of the United States, it quickly became a global crisis. W. Arthur Lewis, another Nobel Laureate in Economics, offered a caveat. He noted "that the centre of the depression was the United States of America, in the sense that most of what happened elsewhere has to be explained in terms of the American contraction, while that contraction is hardly explicable in any but internal terms."7 There is little doubt that the current crisis originated on Wall Street and spread around the world like a contagion. As the Bush administration seeks to contain this economic conflagration (it is now President Barack Obama's problem), it is significant that Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, has had a sustained interest in the political and economic causes of the Great Depression. Professor Christiana Romer, who emphasized what she called "the many unique causes of America's Great Depression"8 in her professional work (she is a specialist of the Great Depression), has been selected by President Obama to lead his Council of Economic Advisers. Yet, as the experience of the Great Depression demonstrated, the Third World (or the "emerging" economies) will feel the brunt of the crisis more severely than the developed economies. Manmohan Singh, the president of India, observed: "Emergent market countries were not the cause of this crisis, but they are amongst its most affected victims."9

At this point, many of you may be asking, what does Albert Raymond Forbes Webber, an obscure politician who started his life's work in the interior of Guyana–more particularly in Bartica–has to do with all of this? In spite of his obscure beginnings (he was born in Tobago in 1880 and died in Guyana in 1932), Webber made astute observations about the 1929 economic crisis that plunged Guyana and the Caribbean into much misery. Although few persons paid attention to what he said about the Great Depression and its effect on his adopted country, much of what he said then is relevant to today's economic crisis. He anticipated the essence of John Maynard Keynes's assertions about the role of government spending in times of economic depression.

As the world seeks solutions to its economic problems, most governments are looking anew at Keynesian theories to get us out of the mess in which we find ourselves. In 1930, long before Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money changed the orthodoxy of the time (he demonstrated that the level of income and employment depended on the level of effective demand and that government had a responsibility to intervene through increased spending to pull the economy out of recession), Webber advocated similar ideas. Seeing the misery of the Guyanese people caused by the Depression, Webber called upon the British government to put more money into the Guyanese economy, cut taxes, and run a deficit to relieve the suffering of his people.

Webber was ahead of his time in this area of thinking. Charles Kindleberger has argued that the Japanese were producing "Keynesian policies as early as 1932 without Keynes,"10 that Kemekiki Takahashi, the Japanese finance minister, "intuitively understood the potentiality of deficit financing with a flexible exchange rate . . . [and] showed that he already understood the mechanism of the Keynesian multiplier."11 Takahashi was "characterized as Japan's Keynes because of his use of deficit-finance, fiscal stimuli."12 Webber also advocated Keynesian policies without a Keynes although he was not the country's finance minister or a trained economist. Like Takahashi, he was a distinguished journalist who later became a politician and an accomplished economic thinker who outlined a fundamental economic position without all of the academic scaffolding.13 In so doing, he confirmed Alfred Marshall's observation that "economics is not a body concrete truth, but an engine for the discovery of concrete truth."14 Ewart Williams, governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, acknowledges that Webber was "a Keynesian even before Keynes."15

In 1930 when Webber turned his attention to Guyana's worsening economic situation he was an old hand at the business of economics. From 1916 when he wrote "The Rise and Wane of the Colony's Industries" of which the editor of the Daily Chronicle said, "It would have been difficult for us to choose a more vigorous or better informed writer" to the publication of "I Am an Economic Heretic" (1930) Webber was intimately involved in the economic challenges that faced Guyana. In 1926 he attended the West Indian Conference in London, the first conference of West Indian leaders, in which currency reform was one of the main items discussed. Such experiences gave him enormous opportunities to examine issues relating to fiscal and monetary affairs in Guyana and the Caribbean.

Webber began his career as a journalist who was concerned about the economic and literary affairs of his adopted country. He wound up his career by becoming the de facto prime minister of Guyana. In 1917 he wrote Those That Be in Bondage: A Tale of Indentures and Sunlit Western Waters (1917) in which he examined the plight of East Indian indentures. It predates Seepersad Naipaul's Gurudeva and Other Indian Tales (1946) and V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr. Biswas (1961) both of which examined the conditions of East Indians in the Caribbean from a more intimate point of view. The Naipauls were East Indians while Webber was not. In 1919 he completed Glints from an Anvil, a book of poems, which he prepared for publication. Unfortunately, it was not published although the galleys of that book still exist.

Webber edited the Daily Chronicle from 1919 to 1925 and the New Daily Chronicle from 1925 to 1930 when Nelson Cannon, his partner and friend, fired him from the latter post. In the 1920s these two newspapers became the voice of the Guyanese people and a mirror through which they could see the world. In October 1921 he was elected to the Guyanese Legislature thereby becoming the first littérateur in the colony to win an election, a process he chronicled in "How I Won My Election." In his victory speech he declared: "I do not desire to say much about the [election] struggle, but if one thing is patent, I have fought for the black man's place in the sun both in an out of the columns of the Daily Chronicle." This declaration came in response to a charge that he was the planters' candidate. He had worked for the planters for a short period of time. A month later, on its fortieth anniversary, he declared that the Daily Chronicle had always been "on the side of the people and the avowed champion of their legitimate aspirations."16 Throughout his career he fought for the rights of colonized people.

In 1926, as the British economy soured, Great Britain called together West Indian leaders to discuss currency reform. Great Britain was experiencing difficulty in keeping on the gold standard, "the exchange value of the pound was slightly below par, and the Bank of England experienced difficulty in preventing an outflow of gold."17 Because Britain returned to the gold standard at too high a parity, it led to a "lowering of wages and prices to secure equilibrium in the exchanges."18 Necessarily, currency reform was one of the main items at the West Indian conference. While West Africa and other parts of the empire had formal currency arrangements, the West Indies and Guyana were still using "subsidiary tokens from the Mother Country."19 In these circumstances the Imperial government proposed that "the existing silver tokens should be redeemed at face value by the Imperial Treasury and replaced by a West Indian issue controlled in the interest of the West Indies by a Currency Control Board administered by the Imperial Government."20 The proposal also provided for the West Indian colonies to share in the profits from the currency issue (seigniorage-the difference between the face value of the coin and cost of manufacture).

Until then, the Imperial Government made all of the profit and took any losses from the issue of currency in the West Indies. The Currency Board proposal was in line with what had worked well in West Africa since 1913. The British wanted to redeem all silver and other coins and replace them by coins of various denominations such as 10 and 5cents (that is, with a West Indian coinage) and to introduce the new system over time.21 Many of the representatives from the colonies supported the plan including the formula for the distribution of the profit (four fifths to the Imperial Government and one fifth to the colonies). Webber, the quintessential Caribbean nationalist that he was, wanted the West Indian colonies to issue and be responsible for their own currency. He recognized that a purely West Indian scheme would open up the region to losses (such as a loss from the decline in the price of silver or devaluation resulting from the over-issue of currency). Webber, however, felt the region was sufficiently mature to accept these obligations. He was particularly put off by the paternalism inherent in the arguments of the Imperial Government that the colonies needed to be protected from themselves. He felt that any solution of the currency problem should be beneficial to the people of Guyana and demonstrated his commitment to self-government by urging his colleagues to accept the obligation of controlling their country's currency.

Even in his domestic household Webber paid a price for his opposition to the British control of his country's currency. Jennifer Welshman, Webber's granddaughter, recalls a story that her mother, Edith Dummett (Webber's daughter) told her constantly. Apparently, Webber's wife Beatrice was indignant that Webber wanted to detach (unpeg) Guyana's currency from the British currency. According to Jennifer, Webber's sentiments "were a sort of heresy for his wife." However, Webber did not relent. In jest, he called his wife "the Queen's most loyal subject abroad."22

A moment of reflection: When I read Proceedings of the West Indian Conference in 1988, I did not pay as much attention to its details as I did in light of the fiscal crisis that gripped the world at the end of 2008. In hindsight, these two readings are a good indication of how texts can mean different things in different contexts and how ideas that seem benign initially jump out with fresh resonances on a second reading. Two thoughts struck me as I re-read the Proceedings: the seductive nature of the master's voice and how effectively West Indians were roped into the imperial design. At the time of the conference, none of the West Indian countries had a central bank and all relied upon Great Britain to look after their interests. Unfortunately, Britain's interests always superseded local interests and worked to the perpetual disadvantage of the latter. Here is a taste of Lord Amery's (the secretary of state for the colonies) opening remarks to the delegates:
You are met here in the heart of this Old Motherland, which is still, and I hope always will remain, Home to all her offspring wherever settled in and round the Seven Seas; and I might add, you are met here in surroundings which may help to remind you of all that majestic story of the growth of the British constitutional freedom and the growth of the British Empire, a story in which the West Indies have played their conspicuous part, and to which your present deliberations will, I hope make their fruitful contribution.23
As Lord Amery spoke, he could not be unaware that the power and might of Great Britain were coming to an end. Many economic historians would see the 1920s as "a lost decade for the British Kingdom."24 The 1920s signaled the beginning of the end of might of the British Empire. Necessarily, it was important for Britain to reiterate her maternal ties to the children of the empire and reemphasize the children's filial obligations to their mother (country).

The second notable aspect of the Proceedings was the degree to which the West Indies was tethered into the affairs of empire and, unbeknownst to themselves, how much they were implicated in an international drama of life and death. Again, Lord Amery:
Now, gentlemen, you have met to consider a problem which is a repetition, on a small scale, of the problem which the whole Empire is faced to-day, and has, indeed been faced for many years past. The problem is how to secure unity of action towards the outside world, and the most effective co-operation for the common good between nations and communities which share a common loyalty, common tradition and common aspirations, but which, at the same time, are widely sundered by the seas, and each one of them keenly jealous of its own individuality and of its constitutional status, and suspicious of anything that may seem to threaten the slightest interference with the free and independent play of its national or local life. That is a problem which we have discussed as regards general Imperial relations for something like fifty years now.25
While the United States, Canada, Australia, and France enjoyed a boom around 1926, Britain, Japan, and Italy did not share in that prosperity. Kindleberger noted that "Britain shared but little in expansion, spending virtually all of the 1920s in the doldrums. Unemployment was severe throughout the decade, both before and after the General Strike of 1926, which resulted from the coal strike that followed the attempt to squeeze prices and wages down further after the stabilization of the pound."26 The General Strike occurred while the conference was taking place (that is, from May 3 to May 13) as the coal miners undertook strike action to prevent wage reduction amid worsening economic conditions. When Webber offered his prescient article, "I Am an Economic Heretic," he attributed its guiding sentiments to Arthur J. Cook, the national secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain from 1924-1931. Cook, a trade unionist and self-avowed Marxist, met Webber in London although I am not sure whether he met him during this visit.

Suffice it to say that the West Indian Conference took place when the British economy was under tremendous pressure; at a time when the Colonial Office was looking inward (to the empire) to solve its economic problems largely through its monetary policies. In 1925 Winston Churchill reintroduced the gold standard, which made the British pound too strong for promoting exports. This policy decision raised interest rates and hurt business. Mine owners sought to maintain their profit margins by reducing the wages of the workers while Continental bankers thought of moving out of sterling into dollars or gold. Amid these problems Lord Amery presented his challenges to West Indians leaders at the conference: How do we secure unity of action against the outside world through fiscal and monetary policy?

After the conference Webber picked up on Lord Amery's invitation that the delegates should "see something of England in springtime, a sight worth seeing." Seeing England with new eyes, he produced An Innocent's Pilgrimage: Being Pen Pictures of a Tender-Foot who Visited London for the First Time (1927). Although Webber had previously visited England, this was the first time he came as a journalist and politician. An Innocent's Pilgrimage resembled Mark Twain's The Innocent Abroad; Or, the New Pilgrim's Progress (1869) in that it sought to give Guyanese readers "a taste" of England by comparing the England of their imagination with the everyday experiences of life in that country thereby giving his fellow citizens (who were subjects of the Crown) a more realistic basis upon which to measure and understand the (m)other country.

Webber's crusading journalism and legislative prowess made him a champion in the eyes of his people. His work with the labor unions also consolidated his influence among the Guyanese. He fought side by side with Hubert Critchlow, secretary-treasurer of the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU) and father of the Caribbean trade union movement, to improve the working conditions of the Guyanese working people. Such involvement led him to cross the Atlantic once more (he did so more than four times during his life) to plead the cause of his people in Britain, in other parts of the Caribbean, and in the United States. During these visits he became acquainted with the leaders of the British Labour Party, the Fabians, the labor union leaders, and leaders of the Caribbean. He may have picked up some of his ideas about Keynes and his economic philosophy during these visits. His visits to New York gave him a better sense of the color question while his visit to the Caribbean allowed him to identify more fully with the aspirations of the larger Caribbean society.

As the African and East Indian electorate grew in size, the British changed the Guyanese constitution to limit the financial responsibilities (controls) of the legislators. In 1927 Webber and Nelson Cannon formed the Popular Party, the first political party in the West Indies, to advance the interests of the working people. When election was called, the Popular Party was victorious. Their victory alarmed the plantocracy who ascribed their victory "to organization, combination, coupled of course, with the systematic diffusion of dastardly lies, gross misrepresentation and the most scurrilous stories, and slander." The government challenged the election and prevented eight of the fourteen victorious members of the Popular Party from taking their seats in the Legislative Council. What the government could not prevent through the polls it achieved through the courts.

In 1928 the British government finally changed the constitution. Once more Webber and his colleagues crossed the Atlantic to protest the action of the local colonial administrators. They were not successful. The British were intent on making Guyana a Crown Colony government and nothing would stop them from doing so. The dissolution of the Popular Party did not help Webber and his colleagues to stymie the actions of the local colonial administrators. Many theorists believed that the adoption of the 1928 constitution represented "a backward step on the road to [Guyanese] independence," a judgment that confirmed Webber's political foresight.

In spite of Webber's failure to prevent the implementation of a retrogressive constitution, his trip to London and the Caribbean was not a total loss. He found himself in the unique position using his literary talent to capture the social and cultural milieu of the places that he visited. Nine sketches, "From an Editorial View-Point," appeared in the New Daily Chronicle from February 19 through June 20, 1928. They displayed a capacity for insightful sociological and cultural observation and a knack for getting at the heart of an issue. He never found the time to publish these sketches in a book although he planned to do so. Two of his observations about his visit to New York City are instructive.

Coming from the West Indies, Webber could not help but observe the relationship between the races. He was visiting New York at the height of the Harlem Renaissance when "the Negro was in vogue" and a new consciousness was developing "among blacks in New York, as well as elsewhere in the United States and perhaps around the world."27 In 1926 Alain Locke published The New Negro, a manifesto of the New Negro aesthetic movement. Webber's joy at seeing how much black people had become a part of New York City's landscape was obvious. His observations are worthy of being quoted at length:
I am inclined to think colour lines are less rigidly drawn in New York than in either Canada or British Guiana. Of course no reference is made to the intense colour lines as drawn in the Southern States. New York is, speaking on the wide and the broad, developing a wider orientation and a broader outlook. For one thing, it is the greatest Negro city in the world. Coloured persons are met every two yards in 5th Avenue, Broadway, or anywhere else. White restaurants, it is true will not serve pronouncedly Negro persons; but these ride without let or hindrance on the tram cars, on the subways, on the elevated railroads or on buses. There is no segregation in traveling in New York. A Negro may sit by the side of a white person without comment. ...

As to the grades of colour as understood in this colony and the West Indies, there are none in New York: a person is either white or Negro-with this peculiarity: all West Indians are Negroes, unless they can prove themselves white; and all South Americans (including British Guiana) are white, unless someone else proves them coloured! ...

On this race question New York is producing a wonderful experiment, and the other great cities in a lesser extent, in annealing all the races of the earth into one. Incidentally, it is in New York that the greater barriers of colour prejudice will yet become submerged-25, 50 or 150 years hence. At the present it is the great melting pot of the earth.
These insights appeared thirty-five years before Nathan Glazer and Patrick Moynihan's famous study Beyond the Melting Pot, which examined the impact of mass migration of various groups into New York City and the city's capacity to assimilate them. Webber was acutely aware of the color problem having previously identified with the problems of black people. He returned to Guyana with a more nuanced idea of the color problem and its effect upon West Indians.

An additional observation revolved around a description of a New York City subway ride during rush hour, one of "the most amusing and sometimes exasperating experiences of a traveler" as he called it. Anyone who has ever ridden on a New York City subway at rush hour can relate to this scene. It has a contemporaneous ring to it:
In the rush hours, mostly at around 5 o'clock, passengers in the subway train are stacked absolutely and literally like sardines. Everybody is good humoured: but it has its embarrassing moments. Male and female are jammed together without regard to sex. Just who does the pushing is nothing. You are pushed, that's all. Not only just pushed: but squeezed tight and fast. Now, that is all very well when a man happens to be wedged between men; or women between women; but all are mixed trains! The whole world seems to be riding in the subways at that hour, and it is a regular case of "male and female created He them." As only standing room is available one has to be very cautious with one's hands. An involuntary movement may be taken as a caress, welcome or unwelcome. If the latter then your number is up. Fortunately as I said before, the utmost good-humour prevails, and everybody takes it smiling. But there is the potential danger of much embarrassment, when the sexes are jammed tight together in a twenty minute ride, and when the slightest movement of a limb may be misunderstood! Bad as it is in winter, when all wear overcoats and provide as it were dividing paddings, one wonders what it must be like in summer when the clothing of both sexes is not quite so copious!
If you have ever been in New York and traveled on the subway during rush hour you would understand what Webber was talking about. After he published "From an Editorial View-Point," Webber wrote Centenary History and Handbook of British Guiana (1931) to commemorate the coming together of Demerara, Berbice, and Essequebo in 1831 to form one political unit. It emerged as the most comprehensive history of Guyana. Eric Williams drew upon it when he wrote about Guyana.

"I Am an Economic Heretic" was one of Webber's most important and insightful essays. Since I devoted a chapter of Caribbean Visionary to Webber's anticipation of Keynes's theory on employment, I will only outline the essence of my argument. Webber wrote his article when Guyana and the other West Indian territories were in a depression. Sugar was in excess of its pre-war level and the prices were low because of an increase in acreage, new varieties of sugar, and improved methods of extraction. Lewis noted that "production outran consumption, and stocks increased steadily throughout the second half of the twenties, with depressing effects on prices."28 Rice, another major export of Guyana, suffered a similar fate. As a result, Guyana felt the pangs of falling prices and diminished revenues. Webber began his article by declaring that one heard the following cry everywhere: "Government expenditure must be reduced. It is generally believed that if Government were forced to reduce expenditure, dock salaries, and dismiss a swarm of officials, the Colony would be placed upon the high road to prosperity. I do not share those views. If that be orthodox faith, then I am an economic heretic."

He believed that such drastic cuts in government expenditure would aggravate "the evils" from which the country was suffering. "Sir Gordon Guggishberg [governor of the colony] hit Water Street [Guyana's Wall Street] to the tune of $300,000 in his ill advised scheme of administrative economies. When the government budget was reduced by that amount, it forthwith constricted the spending power of the community by that sum. Trade was depressed, and commerce employees were dismissed all round who all went to swell the ranks of the unemployed, and compete for what jobs were going with the small army of retainers who were thrown out of Government employment."29

Webber was sounding very much like President Barack Obama. He insisted that such cutbacks proposed by Governor Guggishberg would not conduce to the well being of the society or solve the problems of unemployment. In classic Keynesian fashion and in the words of Krugman he realized that "if the private sector won't spend enough to maintain full employment, the public sector must take up the slack."30 Webber called for the running of government deficits and the reduction of taxes to deal with the depression and concluded his article with the following recommendation:
What is required in British Guiana is increased earning power in the community rather than restricting buying capacity. Arthur J. Cook said to me in London, "Webber, my boy, the world is NOT suffering from over production. It is suffering from under consumption." This might sound like a foolish euphonism [sic]; but it is as sound as a bell. The present sugar situation is due to restricted consumption, dating from the shilling and pounds days, which sent the stocks accumulating. So in other communities.31
After years of study, Lewis arrived at a similar position when he observed: "Production outran consumption, and stocks increased steadily throughout the second half of the twenties with depressing effects on prices."32 Webber was not a formally trained economist but possessed a good working knowledge of the field and its effects on society. Ewart Williams, the governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, hit the nail upon its head when he asserted that while Webber was not "an economist by training his clear understanding of economic phenomena and his passion for the welfare of his people led him to propose solutions that were out of sync with the colonial policy-makers but which became mainstream immediately after his death and remain relevant today."33 In other words, Webber was ahead of his time in terms of economic theory.

My last observation is taken from an interview I conducted with Edith Dummett in 1988 a few months before she died. It was her parting gift to the people of the West Indies:
Cudjoe: Did you admire your father very much?
Dummett: I admired his brains.
Cudjoe: What didn't you admire about him?
Dummett: [She laughs.] Well, let me tell you. [Keeps on laughing.] Of course, he was very much a lady's man. Now, I don't know why because it was not his looks particularly.
Cudjoe: Was he a handsome man?
Dummett: Well, yes! Of course, he would say so. But I remember an elderly woman much older than I. She was married and she had a couple of children. And she told me, "The first time I saw your father, I thought he was the most handsome man I ever seen in my life." She was married, had a husband and family, and she told me that. Well, afterwards I realized what it was that the ladies saw in him. Perhaps it was his style or his approach to them.
Cudjoe: He was a popular man.
Dummett: Yes, he was very popular with the ordinary class of people too. Very popular with them.
Cudjoe: Why?
Dummett: I don't know. Perhaps because he could get down to them [their level], you see. He could meet them on their own ground.
Webber was an important Caribbean intellectual, statesman, journalist, and scholar. He challenged British colonialism, asked his people to think about their condition, to organize themselves to change their condition. John Maynard Keynes ended his General Theory, as Krugman points out, with "a famous disquisition on the importance of economic ideas: 'Soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.'"34 Webber's contemporary relevance to us lay in his perspicacity; his ability to think new thoughts; and his capacity to envision new horizons for his people. He is as relevant today as he was during his time. The interval between his death and now allows us to have a better appreciation for his work and the power of his ideas. I have tried to embody all of his special qualities in Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation. It was also my pleasure to dedicate this book to Ewart Williams, one of the most distinguished minds of the contemporary Caribbean.

  1. A lecture delivered at the launching of Selwyn R. Cudjoe's Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2009) at the Harvard Coop, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 3, 2008. Several additions were made for publication. []

  2. Professor Cudjoe is a professor of literature at Wellesley College and a director of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. []

  3. See Martin Fackler, "Japan's Economy, World's Second Largest, Is in Recession," New York Times, November 17, 2008. []

  4. Ralph Atkins, "Fall in Output Sends Eurozone Towards Worst Quarter by Far." Financial Times, December 17, 2008. []

  5. Paul Krugman, "Fighting Off Depression," New York Times, January 4, 2009. []

  6. "The First Steps towards Recovery," Financial Times, November 14, 2008. []

  7. W. Arthur Lewis, Economic Survey, 1919-1939 (Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1950), p. 52. []

  8. Christiana D. Romer, "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7, No 2 (Spring 1993), p. 19. []

  9. Mark Landler, "World Leaders Vow Push to Aid Economy," New York Times, November 16, 2008. []

  10. Charles P. Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. xxii. []

  11. Ibid., p. 163. []

  12. Dick K. Nanto and Shinji Takagi, "Korekiyo and Japan's Recovery from the Great Depression," The American Economic Review, 75, No. 2 (May 1985), p. 369. []

  13. The language is taken from Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009), p. 7. []

  14. Alfred Marshall quoted in Ibid. []

  15. Ewart Williams, "A. R. F. Webber and Contemporary Economics." Private correspondence, January 3, 2009. []

  16. Daily Chronicle, November 4, 1921. Unless stated otherwise, all these quotes are taken from Caribbean Visionary. []

  17. Lewis, Economic Survey, p. 42. []

  18. Ibid., p. 44. []

  19. Proceedings of the West Indian Conference Held in London, May-June, 1926 (London: Waterlow & Sons, 1926), p. 34. []

  20. Ibid. []

  21. When the British arrived in the region in the early nineteenth century, the money in circulation consisted of a few gold coins and a large number of silver tokens issued by the former colonial powers. They tried to put order to the confusion by introducing the British shilling as the standard currency and by making the other coins convertible into the standard gold currency of the United Kingdom. With emancipation in the 1830s, the slaves became employees thereby creating the need for new kinds of business relationships and setting the stage for the arrival of British banks to finance trade between the United Kingdom and the colonies. The major British bank, the Colonial Bank, was authorized to issue notes which became legal tender along with a range of British and other coins. For example, in Trinidad there were two separate currencies designed to protect British mercantile interests: one for local exchange and another for international trading. According to Danielle Delon, "This two-tiered exchange system made trading with any country other than Britain very difficult, if not impossible as only the Bank of England would accept the Trinidad dollar" [Danielle Delon, ed. Special Edition of the Letters of Margaret Mann (Port of Spain: The National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago, 2008), p. 44]. []

  22. Private conversation with Jennifer Welshman, December 3, 2008. []

  23. Ibid., p. 3. []

  24. Kindleberger, The World in Depression, p. 41. []

  25. Proceedings of the West Indian Conference, pp. 3-4. []

  26. Kindleberger, The World in Depression, p. 41. []

  27. Arnold Rampersad, "Introduction" to Alain Locke, The New Negro (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). See also Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003) from a discussion of the international dimension of the black awakening during this period. []

  28. Lewis, Economic Survey, p. 46. []

  29. A.R.F. Webber, "I Am an Economic Heretic," Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1930. []

  30. Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics, p. 71. []

  31. Webber, "I Am an Economic Heretic." []

  32. Lewis, Economic Survey, p. []

  33. Williams, "A. R. F. Webber and Contemporary Economics." []

  34. Quoted in Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics, p. 190. []

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