One of the great myths of American history is that President Herbert Hoover was a proponent of laissez-faire economics, and that his purported hands-off approach led the US to economic ruin.
In fact, Hoover was anything but hands off once the economy began tanking in 1929, and his meddling made things far worse than they otherwise would have been.
According to economist Murray Rothbard, the government under Hoover embarked on the “Hoover New Deal,” an anti-depression program marked by extensive governmental economic planning and intervention – including bolstering of wage rates and prices, expansion of credit, propping up of weak firms, and increased government spending (e.g., subsidies to unemployment and public works).
“Hoover, from the very start of the depression, set his course unerringly toward the violation of all the laissez-faire canons,” according to Rothbard. “As a consequence, he left office with the economy at the depths of an unprecedented depression, with no recovery in sight after three and a half years, and with unemployment at the terrible and unprecedented rate of 25 percent of the labor force.”