The Politics of Inflation and Economic Stagnation: Theoretical Approaches and International Case Studies

By Leon N. Lindberg; Charles S. Maier | Go to book overview

PART FOUR
Political Economies in Conflict

The four major case studies included in this part are designed to present histories of economic policymaking in their full complexity. They serve as laboratories in which to test the influence of labor unions and employers, the impact of democratic electorates and organized parties, the structure of the state and financial authorities, the challenges of a changing international economic environment. Each of these case studies, moreover, stresses the contradictions that the 1970s imposed on policymakers. They are intended to serve as studies in the difficulties of that decade, not the successes (although there were successes).

The Italian case, presented in chapter 15, is that of an inflation-prone economy highly vulnerable to its own interest groups and the impact of external events. Along with Britain, Italy suffered from the highest inflationary rates in Europe during the 1970s. (And much of the equivalent British institutional material can be gleaned from Colin Crouch's discussion of trade unions in chapter 5.) Italy is also instructive in that the relative weakness of the state must be set against the context of rapid social and economic modernization; a creaky structure based on patronage and power sharing has had to cope with the eruption of mass movements. Michele Salvati thus adopts the procedure of analyzing first the forces in the economic arena, then the contributory pressures emanating from the political sphere, finally synthesizing both in an analytical narrative.

While Italy represented a case study of a weak economy and political system--at least from the criterion of resisting inflation and ensuring

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