Capitalism, Economic Dynamics

By Jerzy Osiatyński; Chester Adam Kisiel et al. | Go to book overview
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The Economic Situation in the USA, 1956-1961 [1]

1. The purpose of this study is not so much a detailed account of the economic situation in the USA in the last few years as an analysis of this period in order to shed light on certain typical features of American capitalism.

As we see from Table 54, two business cycles clearly appear in this period: one between the first quarters of 1956 and of 1959, and another between the first quarter of 1959 and the fourth quarter of 1961.

We briefly discuss these cyclical fluctuations by starting with the first cycle. Economic activity from the first quarter of 1956 to the third quarter of 1957 stayed on a high level, and unemployment, for the USA, was not great, only 5% of the total labour force. Production grew very slowly in this period, however. The real national income in this period of a year and a half increased by only 3%. The living standard, i.e. consumption per head of population, stayed more or less the same (owing to a rather high birth rate).

In the third quarter of 1957 a deep recession began. The real national income fell by nearly 5% by the first quarter of 1958, and unemployment increased to more or less 8% of the total labour force. Consumption per head of population was 2.5% lower than before the recession. Then, from the second quarter of 1958 to the first quarter of 1959, a business upswing raised economic activity to a level somewhat higher than before the recession. The living standard, however, was not much higher than before the recession and unemployment was somewhat greater, 7% of the total labour force in comparison with 5% before the recession.

The course of the second cycle was similar. Until the second quarter of 1960 we observe an increase in the national income at a more rapid pace than in the corresponding period of the previous cycle. On the other hand, unemployment stays on a higher level than before (nearly 7%).

A somewhat less deep recession than in the previous cycle began in the second quarter of 1960. By the first quarter of 1961 national


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Capitalism, Economic Dynamics
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