This introductory chapter lays out the main arguments of the book—namely, that the National Industrial Recovery Act was a multifaceted program that affected different industries very differently. Importantly, the program also had very diverse temporal effects across the 710 days of its existence. Without understanding this heterogeneity, scholars cannot fully assess the NIRA’s role in the Great Depression. This book dives systematically into the contents of the NIRA codes of fair competition as well as into archival evidence of how the codes truly affected firm and consumer behavior. It establishes the high level of heterogeneity within the codes and, more importantly, accounts for that heterogeneity while assessing the NIRA’s impact. In short, the book deconstructs the NIRA monolith and shows that the program affected each industry uniquely.
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