The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence
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The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  78 ratings  ·  21 reviews
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 elect...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
I don't like Reaganomics. I don't like the capitalist world that it created, with its massive and absurd inequalities in rewards for labor. I don't like the idea of medicine for profit, or the notion that people *should* retire at a give age willy-nilly.

So I was predisposed to dislike this book because it extols the risk/reward rules that I so frown on. I ended up not disliking the book, though I still dislike the system it praises. Samuelson sings the conservative aria that entitlement spending...more
Alan
This book suffers from bad timing. Issued early in 208, it has already been overtaken by events. It shows I suppose the inability of economists to foresee the future.
When this book came out we were already in our current recession/depression, although that was not yet clear. The author was dimly aware of the sub-prime crisis but obviously could not imagine the way it was to bring down the entire world economy, wiping out trillions of dollars of accumulated wealth, throwing millions out of work...more
Glen
"What succeeds and would be popular in the long run is often unpopular in the short run. What's popular in the short run often fails in the long run." -

"As we weigh our economic prospects, we need to recall the lessons of the Great Inflation. Its continuing significance is that it was a self-inflicted wound: something we did to ourselves with the best of intentions and on the most impeccable of advice. Its intellectual godfathers were without exception men of impressive intelligence. They were c...more
Colin Curran
This is a very balanced overview of the economic history of the US since WWII and the crucial role that inflation has played over the last 65 years. Samuelson argues convincingly that Reagan's support of Paul Volcker's tight money policy was his single largest accomplishment in domestic policy--not tax or spending policy--that set the stage for the economic recovery of the 80s and 90s.

Though I don't agree with all of his views, I credit Samuelson with presenting a fair, non-polemical accounting...more
Brooks
Very interesting history. Basic premise is that the inflationary period of the 1970s impacted global perception and history as much as the great depression. The fault of this inflationary period goes way beyond Carter to Johnson who first imposed wage and price controls. These were supported and strengthened through Nixon and Ford administrations. Finally, under Carton inflation grew above 10%. The cause was not oil or food prices, but government policy that cause the inflation. The great inflat...more
Dustin Hill
A Primer for the Fiscal Cliff

Robert Samuelson is the everyday economist. His background as a journalist means he's a better communicator than most economists. But that's not why you should read THE GREAT INFLATION. You should read THE GREAT INFLATION because soon enough we'll all wish we understood inflation better.

Perhaps you have heard: We're all on bus that we're not sure has any brakes left. A fiscal cliff awaits. If the American economy goes off the fiscal cliff, it seems likely that inflat...more
Cheri
I'm a little torn on this book. As some reviewers have pointed out, it's already out of date: like other economist, the author fails to predict the devastating economic severity of the subprime debacle in his mono focus on the perils of inflation. But for those of us born after 1965, The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath presents the history of the inflationary '70s in a clear, intelligible format that's easy to digest (not so of many econ books).

Robert J. Samuelson weaves a good tale as he tra...more
getAbstract
Detailed economic analysis

Recessionary times have led many people to re-evaluate their long-held beliefs about the financial system. His history-based economic analysis makes journalist Robert Samuelson’s fresh investigation of the insidious effects of inflation especially interesting. He covers the advent of inflation in the U.S. in the 1960s, and explains how it changed the nation’s economic thought and vision. Like a mutated gene, inflation assumed a life of its own and spawned the “new econ...more
Nilesh
The book is a fabulous read to understand the events of the seventies and inflation fear that drives today's central banks. The book's utility is maximum when it is narrating what happened at the time and how various parties reacted. However, the author almost completely loses it whenever he is trying to ascertain how critical what happened then has been responsible for all the good later. The book completely degenerates towards the end when it tries to square everything by making recent events...more
Karen
I was hoping for details on who did what to create and then squelch the high inflation in the USA in the '70s. But this book was short on detail and contained too much opinion and conjecture.

It was useful in a minimal way, by presenting a theory/point of view (the '70s inflation was caused by economists' and political leaders' mistaken belief in their ability to increase employment by choosing a moderately higher inflation level along the Phillips curve).

The reader can evaluate that theory by re...more
Amy
May 23, 2009 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Governmental policies in the 1960's and 1970's led to double-digit inflation, which Reagan and Volcker managed to vanquish, but only through a severe recession in 1981-1982. This transformed our economy and led to the prosperity of the next two decades. Samuelson believes that we are at another crucial juncture and the decisions our country makes now could transform capitalism in America yet again. He gave me much to think about and broadened my understanding of our recent economic history. This...more
Chris
This is a great book explaining the cause and effect of U.S. inflation in the 70's/80's. Although Reagan's fiscal policies were ineffective, it took some courage for him to back Fed Reserve Chairman Volcker's monetary policies of fighting inflation knowing that doing so would bring America into a deep recession. It is also interesting how much the economy can be affected by the public's confidence (or lack there of) of the financial markets.
Jacob
This book was a quick read, but that's because it doesn't have as much to say as it should. Samuelson picked out a good trend and had some good ideas about it, but suffers from "I don't have enough to say, so I'll repeat myself" syndrome. Instead, we should get more about why inflation is so bad, how expectations of inflation affect people's behavior, and what kinds of things are good or bad to do with your money when inflation is high or low.
MikeFromQueens
Pretty good detailed account leading up to Paul Volker and Ronald Regan. A little disappointing on details after that period. In essence, it was a strong case against Kenyesian intervention in attempt to control business cycles, though it was more of a report without delving into theory. It was a good read.
Jana
Fascinating overview of the "Great Inflation" of the 70s, and the affects thereof. Highly recommended if you have more than a passing interest in, what Samuelson argues, was a defining moment in our post-WWII economic world.
Eblong
Translated to what is going on in early 2009, this book makes it sound like the government - GOP and Dem - has had it wrong since the 1960's by worrying about unemployment at the complete expense of devaluing our dollar.
Robert
good discussion about inflation, its causes and the approaches of past administrations in dealing with it. one of the main themes is that it is impossible to control inflation and have full employment at all times.
Thomas Gross
Oversimplified and argumentative - Samuelson sic's (sic) an oral statements and the sic (sic) is questionable.
Blake
This book made a good case for remembering the great inflation and the bad effect it had on the economy.
Brian
already a tad out of date, but still very relevant. it's a bit like reliving the seventies though
William J.
A good read! Clearly emphasizes why inflation is more important to control than unemployment.
Peter
Peter marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2014
Jessica
Jessica marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
Isaac Norwich
Isaac Norwich marked it as to-read
Mar 10, 2014
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