Economic Law and Economic Growth: Antitrust, Regulation, and the American Growth System

By George E. Garvey; Gerald J. Garvey | Go to book overview

2
THE CONTEXT AND FUNCTIONS OF MODERN ECONOMIC LAW

Following the Civil War, the United States underwent its great transformation, from an agrarian to an industrial society. Small locally operated plants gave way to national enterprises whose managers reached for vaster and vaster scales of operation.

The reach for scale presupposed the availability of ample capital for investment, both in industrial expansion and in urban infrastructure, to support new complexes of factories and foundries. In turn, the availability of capital--combined with industrialists' willingness to maintain high levels of capital replacement and new investment--underwrote a continuation of the growth spiral.


CONTINUATION OF THE GROWTH SPIRAL

The economy remained notoriously volatile throughout the postbellum decades, with outright depressions in 1873 and 1893. Nevertheless, over most of the period between the Civil War and the Great Depression, the wage-priceprofit relationships on which growth depended remained generally in balance. Physical output continued to trend upward.

From 1870 or so onward, industrial workers experienced dramatic improvements in their real wages. When prices increased at all, they did so at a rate significantly less than did that of the wage level.1 Per capita Gross National Product rose from $531 per year in the 1864-1878 period to almost $1300 in 1910. Meanwhile, the price index was dropping from 33 to 29.2 To similar effect were the figures on the real earnings of nonfarm workers between 1870 and 1900--up from $375 to $573 per annum.3

Thus the American labor force continued to represent a source of buoyant demand, especially for manufactured items.4 Reciprocally, the prospect of ex-

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Economic Law and Economic Growth: Antitrust, Regulation, and the American Growth System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction ANTITRUST, REGULATION, AND THE AMERICAN GROWTH SYSTEM 1
  • Notes 7
  • 1- Antebellum America: Emergence of the Growth System 13
  • Notes 26
  • 2- The Context and Functions of Modern Economic Law 33
  • Notes 52
  • 3- Neopopulism and the Image of the Atomized Market 59
  • Notes 73
  • 4- Neoclassical Price Theory and Rate Regulation 81
  • Notes 99
  • 5- The Chicago School, Antitrust, and Consumer Surplus 103
  • Notes 116
  • 6- Antitrust, Regulation, and the Field of Policy Choice 121
  • Notes 137
  • Epilogue ECONOMIC LAW, INDUSTRIAL POLICY, AND ECONOMIC GROWTH 145
  • Notes 152
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 157
  • Index 165
  • About the Authors 169
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