In an episode of Jeopardy last week, one of the categories was “One-Term Presidents.”

Here was the “answer:”

Britannica: He “was blaming the depression on events abroad & predicting” his foe’s win” would only intensify the disaster”; it didn’t.

The question that Jeopardy was looking for was “Who was Herbert Hoover?

The Jeopardy fact checkers were arguably wrong. The depression did intensify under FDR. Unemployment reached its peak of 25% in FDR’s first term. Of course, you could argue that with lags in the effect of policies, this was on Hoover. That argument seems reasonable because FDR was elected on November 8, 1932 and inaugurated on March 4, 1933. But one of the big things people wondered about during those 4 months, given that bank failures were a huge part of the story, was whether FDR would take the United States off the gold standard. He wouldn’t answer.

Here’s what Gene Smiley writes in his entry “Great Depression” in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

The Fed’s expansionary monetary policy ended in the early summer of 1932. After his election in November 1932, President-elect Roosevelt refused to outline his policies or endorse Hoover’s, and he refused to deny that he would devalue the dollar against gold after he took office in March 1933. Bank runs and bank failures resumed with a vengeance, and American dollars began to be redeemed for gold as the gold outflow resumed. As financial conditions worsened in January and February 1933, state governments began declaring banking holidays, closing down states’ entire financial sectors. Roosevelt’s national banking holiday stopped the runs and banking failures and finally ended the contraction.

It is true that output started picking up in the second quarter of 1933, as Smiley elaborates. But then FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act, which cartelized hundreds of U.S. industries, slowed things down and caused the Great Depression to last longer than otherwise. So if “intensify the disaster” means make the depression deeper, Jeopardy is not clearly right or clearly wrong. But if “intensify the disaster” means make the depression last longer, indeed, much longer, then Jeopardy is clearly wrong.