Inflation and Stagnation as Politics and History
Charles S. Maier
This volume seeks the reasons for the difficulties of the industrial economics that persisted from the late 1960s at least through the early 1980s. It presents not primarily the views of economists but incorporates the approaches of political scientists, historians, and sociologists. Political and historical analysis does not promise easy solutions to high inflation, painful unemployment, or the faltering of economic growth. But it emphasizes alternative perspectives--explanations rooted in party and national rivalries, the history of class relations, or the differing roles of national governments as economic factors.
Until the end of 1980, inflation remained the natural preoccupying focus for any broad inquiry into the persisting difficulties of the industrial economics during the 1970s. It is true that the sustained worldwide inflation that began in the late 1960s did not reach the hyperinflationary proportions that rendered many currencies worthless after World Wars I and II. There was no destruction of money, for instance, on the scale of the German mark's fall to one-trillionth of its prewar stable value by the end of 1923, nor of other paper monies' decline during the upheavals of war and revolution. Nor was there even an inflation on the scale of those in Argentina and Chile before their respective military coups, where prices jumped two to seven-fold on a per annum basis, and half the years over more than two decades brought inflation rates of 50 percent or more.1 But horror stories of catastrophic inflations elsewhere were no substitute for getting inflation under control at home. Moreover, the industrial____________________