“Reckless, booming anarchy,” in short, produced fundamental progress. It was not a stable system, racked as it was by bank failures and collapsed business ventures, outrageous speculation and defaulted loans. Yet it was also energetic and inventive, creating permanent economic growth that endured after the froth was blown away.
This is Greider describing the 1830’s.
Those who gambled on the future rise of the public lands in the West… were madmen only in the short-run business sense–only in thinking that future prospects could be realized all at once by means of an infinitely expansible credit system–and not in their basic sense of direction. The whirlwind creation of credit, wasteful as it was, had the effect of transferring purchasing power from the passive elements in the economy to the activists.
The classic tradeoff between entrepreneurism and stability.