Thursday August 28th, 2014, 9:06 am (EDT)

Economic History As It Happened (Vol II): The End of Prosperity

Economic History As It Happened: The End of Prosperity: The American Economy in the 1970s

Economic History As It Happened
Paperback, 136 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0-85345-422-9

Released: January 1977

Price: $19

This is the second in the series of four collections of essays in which Paul M. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, the editors of Monthly Review, set out as it took place the development of U.S. and global capitalism from the late 1960s to the “financial explosion” age of the early 1990s and after.

This second set of essays constitute in their totality a probing analysis of the condition of the United States economy in the 1970s, immediately after the end of the “golden age” of capitalism. The authors concluded, correctly, that a new period had begun&mdash“one of sluggish capitalist accumulation and unemployment in the advanced capitalist countries on a scale not seen since the 1930s.”

This condition contrasts sharply with the long period from the 1940s to the late 1960s, which was characterized by vigorous capital accumulation and relatively long cyclical upswings and mild recessions. Thus the 1970s marked a change from “prosperity” to stagnation, an historic turning point of great importance.

These essays, all of which appeared in Monthly Review between 1973 and 1977, explore the causes, consequences, and implications of this end of prosperity. From an analysis of the breakdown of the Bretton Woods monetary system signaling a basic change in the mechanics of American international financial domination, to a discussion of the failure of “Keynesian” manipulations to solve the economic lethargy, this book is a diagnosis of a key set of changes that initiated a new era of a lingering, and in the long run incurable, sickness of capitalism.

Paul M. Sweezy (1910-2004) was born in New York City, educated at Exeter and Harvard, and after receiving his Ph.D. in 1937 went to the London School of Economics, to Vienna, and to other places on the Continent for graduate study. He taught economics at Harvard until 1946 and was visiting professor of economics at Cornell, Stanford, and the New School. He was a founding editor of Monthly Review and author of Monopoly Capital (with Paul Baran) and The Theory of Capitalist Development, among many other books and articles. Harry Magdoff (1913-2006) directed studies of productivity for the WPA in the 1930s. Towards the end of the Second World War, he became chief economist in charge of the Current Business Analysis Division at the Department of Commerce where he oversaw publication of the Survey of Current Business. Later, he worked as special assistant to Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace. He is widely recognized for his economic analyses of imperialism and was co-editor of Monthly Review from 1969 until 2006.