In popular imagery, Herbert Hoover is often stereotyped as a 'do-nothing' president who offered only nineteenth-century slogans for the greatest economic catastrophe in twentieth-century American history. Nothing could be further from the truth. This study examines the properties of an innovative approach to economic growth and stability formulated by Hoover and his associates during his years as secretary of commerce (1921-9) and inspects his deployment of this strategy from the White House following the Great Crash in the autumn of 1929. Attention is then focused on Hoover's attempts to reformulate his macro-economic programme as the depression deepened in late 1931 and 1932. Archival materials provide arresting insights into Hoover's aspirations for a new institution - the Reconstruction Finance Corporations - as a vehicle for stimulating investment through a novel form of 'off-budget' financing. To complement the discussion of Hoover's theories of economic policy in their various manifestations, the views of contemporary economists on problems of the day are surveyed.