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Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In this fascinating new history, Judith Stein argues that in order to understand our current economic crisis we need to look back to the 1970s and the end of the age of the factory—the era of postwar liberalism, created by the New Deal, whose practices, high wages, and regulated capital produced both robust economic growth and greater income equality. When high oil prices ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Yale University Press (first published March 13th 2010)
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Converse

The author's goal in writing Pivotal Decade is to determine why economic policy in the United States took such a turn towards less government intervention. Pivotal Decade describes the American policies associated with increasing international trade, a larger financial sector, and an alleged decline in manufactering in the United States. The author focuses on the debates over federal policy in the 1970s. Throughout the period after the Second World War, the United States had subordinated ec

...more
Tobias
Excellent if at times slanted history of US political economy in the '70s (with a coda that brings the story through the Reagan years and up to the 2008 Great Recession). Stein documents the decline of US manufacturing and the rise of finance. Her argument is that this process was far from inevitable - it wasn't simply the result of globalization or technological change. Essentially successive administrations refused to shift from the policies of the early cold war, when access to the US market ...more
Ben
Excellent overview of the 1970s - political and economic history. Stein blames the transformation of the US economy from industrial production driven by Keynesian demand to financialization and monetarism on, essentially the mediocrity at the top during the 1970s and 1980s. Nixon, Ford, and Carter all prejudiced geo-politics over economics, in large part because the Keynesian consensus was so accepted (we're all Keynesians now), that it seemed like a secondary concern to things like, going to Ch ...more
Josh Teitelbaum
The Pivotal Decade is an important piece of the puzzle set out in the introduction: for the last thirty years median wages have stagnated, but why did it start thirty years ago? The book focuses heavily on the impact of a decades-long trade policy that prioritized developing foreign nations, namely Europe and Japan, as a defense against communism over protecting American workers. Stein largely avoids judging the merits of that choice and focuses instead on its impact on the American worker, or r ...more
Stephen
Tedious reading. I was hoping to get a better understanding of what precipitated the current financial catastrophe and I do. I think.
A year-by-year economic and political analysis that I basically says and proves that the financial abyss the global economy was looking at was put in place by the US during the 70s and brought to full fruition by Ronald Wilson Reagen. Why he laid-in-state when he died is beyond me. Manufacturing and the middle class were eliminated by policies of the federal gover
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Noah
This book would be, at best, a mediocre polemic in The Nation. Stein's basic premise is that the U.S. is exactly as strong as its basic industries -- so we should be focused on producing steel, coal, automobiles, and even shoes and apparel. Therefore, she says, we need industrial policy to support these industries. To argue this, she marshals all the evidence for one side and ignores any downside -- a cheap dollar boosts exports, she will note, but you'd never hear that a strong dollar means che ...more
Jeremy Conley
The premise, how the US switched from manufacturing to finance during the 70's while no one was looking, is really interesting. Unfortunately, Stein's actual telling of that story is mindmeltingly boring. She seems to have thought a blow by blow account of US macroeconomic decisions and outcomes was the best way to get her thesis across, which it was not. This book did nothing to counter my feeling that most published history is just analysis without a filter, which is to say, not very compellin ...more
Joseph N
Really engaging look at some big political and cultural currents in 1970s America. Well written, interesting and I learned a lot.
Harry
Interesting mix of history, economics, and politics.
Ja
Great treatment of a fascinating topic.
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