In An Extraordinary Time, acclaimed economic historian Marc Levinson recounts the global collapse of the postwar economy in the 1970s. While economists struggle to return us to the high economic growth rates of the past, Levinson counterintuitively argues that the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s were an anomaly; slow economic growth is the norm - no matter what economists and politicians may say. Yet these atypical years left the public with unreasonable expectations of what government can achieve. When the economy failed to revive, suspicion of government and liberal institutions rose sharply, laying the groundwork for the political and economic polarization that we're still grappling with today.
A sweeping reappraisal of the last sixty years of world history, An Extraordinary Time describes how the postwar economic boom dissipated, undermining faith in government, destabilizing the global financial system, and forcing us to come to terms with how tumultuous our economy really is.
©2016 Marc Levinson. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
Lately I have focused closely on this era and these pivotal changes in US and global history. This one spends the most time on the USA and quite a bit on Britain, but ventures elsewhere, to France and so on. Policies and leaders are well and clearly explained. A big pivot discussed here surrounds the year 1973, when productivity growth seemed to collapse (right into the present day). I came of age in the 1970s, and felt a need to learn more details of the decisions made, their makers, and their effects. This fills the bill nicely. I also strongly recommend a print book to read alongside this one: More: The Politics of Economic Growth in Postwar America, by Robert M. Collins. It too is a gem, rich in detail and insight (perhaps more than this work, but with a slightly different point of view) and together, much can be learned. All this has plenty of pertinence today, as our politics and expectations and stresses are still wrapped around the nostalgic fantasies, and the relative baseline, of times postwar and before 1973. And there seem to be huge gaps of forgetfulness, if not ignorance, among members of the public. I think all Americans (and others too) could benefit from this big dose of perspective.
Say something about yourself!
This book presents a concise summary of the post-war western economy, focusing on the US, Germany, and France with a side trip to South America. From my understanding of economics, this is a fair assessment of what happened during that period and why. For me, this book did a good job of pulling together events I heard about while growing up, but never really understood in an historical context. Things from Nixon’s price and wage freeze to Reaganomics. I was less familiar with developments in Europe, so it was helpful to see how economic ideas traveled among the major western countries.
The main thesis, as I understand it, is that economic output grows when productivity grows. The post-war economic boom that fizzled out in 1973 was an unusual period of global economic growth, not to be repeated.
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