Blogs > Cliopatria > The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence by Robert J. Samuelson

Aug 25, 2010 9:44 pm


The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence by Robert J. Samuelson



[From the publisher]

The Great Inflation in the 1960s and 1970s, notes award-winning columnist Robert J. Samuelson, played a crucial role in transforming American politics, economy, and everyday life. The direct consequences included stagnation in living standards, a growing belief—both in America and abroad—that the great-power status of the United States was ending, and Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980. But that is only half the story. The end of high inflation led to two decades of almost uninterrupted economic growth, rising stock prices and ever-increasing home values. Paradoxically, this prolonged prosperity triggered the economic and financial collapse of 2008 and 2009 by making Americans—from bank executives to ordinary homeowners—overconfident, complacent, and careless. The Great Inflation and its Aftermath, Samuelson contends, demonstrated that we have not yet escaped the boom-and-bust cycles common in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is a sobering tale essential for anyone who wants to understand today’s world.


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Tim Matthewson - 11/1/2010

The conclusion to Samuselson's study is that the Great Inflation and its Aftermath demonstrated that we have not yet escaped the boom-and-bust cycles common in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Just before the Bush collapse at the end of this presidency, did you notice that economists had begun saying that America had mastered the business cycle? I'm old enough now that I've heard such confidence or should I say arrogance, several times during my life, and I would suggest that when economists start saying that we have mastered the business cycle, it is time to pull out your money from the markets, reach for your wallet, and put all investments in the safest possible investments (municiple bonds, or T-bills, anything that is guaranteed). Such arrogance is a sure sign that the economy is about to collapse!

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