The Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War

By Anthony S. Campagna | Go to book overview

relations had to change, day care for children became a problem, and so on. Again one should not attribute these changes entirely to the war and inflation, but clearly some part of change in participation rates in the labor force can be traced to economic conditions that were the result of a long chain of reactions.

Macroeconomic policy-making in response to these conditions were basically inappropriate. Traditional monetary and fiscal policies simply could not work against stagflation. The price shocks of oil and food could not be controlled by orthodox macroeconomic policies. In fact, they only made matters worse, driving up interest rates or resorting to recessions in order to moderate prices. Of course, faith in macroeconomic policymaking plummeted and with it the liberalism that fostered it. Government became the problem for many and when Ronald Reagan made this a slogan in his campaign of 1980, many could agree with the accusation.

In conclusion, it is apparent that the nation would never be the same following the Vietnam War. Parts of its economic structure were altered, segments of ks its society were alienated, third parties suffered from manifestations of that alienation, military strategies were gradually changed, and government as a solver of problems was questioned. Macroeconomic policy-making was made suspect, and liberalism was reeling. These conditions set the stage for a different approach to government, and the criticisms made by conservatives found more and more acceptance culminating in the Reagan victory in 1980.

The long chain of events before and after the war changed the economy and society along the way, but the precise accounting for them may never be accomplished. It is never possible to know what would have happened anyway, and the war may have just hastened the changes, but surely some of the postwar changes suggested here can be attributed to the aftermath of war giving us this painful period.


NOTES
1.
See Alan S. Blinder, Economic Policy and the Great Stagflation ( New York: Academic Press, 1979).
2.
From March to July, the Federal Reserve required all lenders to maintain a deposit at a Federal Reserve Bank equal to a percentage of credit-card loans and unsecured consumer credit. These reserves were supposed to curb consumer lending and thereby provide some restraint on consumer spending.
3.
Abbas Alnasrawi, OPEC in a Changing World Economy ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 65-67.

-135-

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The Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • I - Early Involvement in Southeast Asia 1
  • 1 - The Initial Years the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations 3
  • 2 - The Economy Prior to Full-Scale War 13
  • Notes 22
  • II - The War Years: the Economic Record 27
  • Notes 48
  • 4 - The Changing Economic Structure, 1966 51
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Nixon's War, 1969-73 79
  • Notes 90
  • III - The Economic and Societal Consequences of the Vietnam War: a Final Accounting 93
  • Notes 109
  • 7 - The Post-Vietnam Society 113
  • Notes 135
  • 8 - Summary and Conclusions 139
  • Notes 151
  • Select Bibliography 153
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 161
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