Richard M. Nixon: Politician, President, Administrator

By Leon Friedman; William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

12
Macroeconomic Policy Under Nixon

M. MARK AMEN


THE MARKET PROBLEM

Political economists and historians who analyze the Nixon period have confined their research either to the administration's domestic economic or to its international economic policies. Within either arena, writers have tended to use either domestic or international factors to explain the administration's economic policies. The literature that covers the domestic sources of the administration's economic policies is diverse. 1 Research on the international sources of the Nixon Administration's domestic and international economic policies has been as diverse, although not as abundant, as the work on the domestic sources of economic policy. 2

The richness of this literature is diminished, however, by the reluctance of most political economists and economic historians 3 to address a problem that is inherent to the market and that emerged with full force during Nixon's presidency: the simultaneous decline of domestic productivity and the loss of international economic preeminence. One of the unique characteristics of market conditions during the Nixon period is the intensity with which these two problems surfaced. In part, this intensity may be attributable to Keynesian economic theory which, by working within the economic constraints of a politically divided world, obfuscated the indivisible nature of the market. Keynes' conception of "national capitalism" 4 had encouraged thinking of the domestic economy and the international economy as two relatively autonomous sectors. This division led both policy makers and political analysts to address the market in terms of trade-offs between mutually exclusive gains and losses in one or the other sectors. The Bretton Woods system was founded, however, on the principle that domestic economies would be "open" to the international sector and, therefore, that the domestic and international sectors were integral parts of one market. As Keynesian economics worked its way into public policy during the early postwar period, administrations in the United States were increasingly confronted with economic

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