NEOPOPULISM AND THE IMAGE OF THE ATOMIZED MARKET
World War II generated the aggregate demand that yanked the United States out of the Depression and back onto the growth path.1 Policymakers, however, feared that the war's end would bring on a recession unless major new markets were found for the output of a fully geared-up U.S. economy.2 State Department planners saw that the needed market expansion could only come from overseas. Exports had to play a leading-sector role in a prosperous postwar economy.
Proponents of the export strategy--who were also, by and large, the planners of the postwar international economic order--envisioned a new version of the growth system. In this version, the dynamics of free trade among nations would supplement the dynamics of the old urban version of the virtuous cycle. Given the free trade regime that was established at U.S.-dominated international conferences--a monetary conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire ( 1944) and one on trade in Geneva, Switzerland ( 1947)3--a vital new reciprocal demand pattern was expected to develop.
Through foreign aid programs (such as the Marshall Plan) and the deployment of military forces abroad, the United States pumped dollars into the world economy.4 The recipients of these dollars used them--as was intended--to purchase American agricultural products to feed their populations. Even more important, foreign recipients of American credits used them to buy Americanmade capital equipment to rebuild or develop their own economies.5
The demand for U.S. exports that was generated with borrowed dollars helped to maintain something approaching a full-employment level of aggregate de-