How to See the Housing Sector: Herbert Hoover’s Department of Commerce
29 September 2023
Contemporary accounts of construction, housing supply, and mortgage finance in the period before the New Deal typically depict a sort of “Wild West” of minimal government oversight: in the words of the economists William Goetzmann and Frank Newman in a 2010 article on the role of the mortgage bond business in the speculative bubble of the late 1920s, “Through the entire movement, regulation and ce. [...] The Department of Commerce became the central clearinghouse for datasets produced by the worlds of business and industry.2 The built environment – and in particular the field of housing production – became the primary mechanism through which the Department of Commerce sought to influence the economy at large.3 In Part III, I examine the impact of these new sources of information and new federal pr. [...] 4 Part I: The Ideology of Data “Of the hundreds of thousands of construction projects that have been entered on the records of the Statistical Department of the F. [...] The NBER and the Department of Commerce would become reciprocal organizations: the NBER summoned the greatest minds of American economics to the problems of industry, oftentimes using industry data which had been collected by the Department of Commerce. [...] 29 In the words of the historian Ellis Hawley, by the mid-1920s the Division of Building and Housing “had become the nucleus of a network of cooperating committees and study groups, each tied to the major trade and professional associations in the housing field and each trying, through organized cooperation and educational campaigns, to overcome the "bottlenecks" that held back "modernization" and.