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An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy
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An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy

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An Extraordinary Time: The End Of The Postwar Boom And The Return Of The Ordinary Economy

The decades after World War II were a golden age across much of the world. It was a time of economic miracles, an era when steady jobs were easy to find and families could see their living standards improving year after year. And then, around 1973, the good times vanished. The world economy slumped badly, then settled into the slow, erratic growth that had been the norm before the war. The result was an era of anxiety, uncertainty, and political extremism that we are still grappling with today. In An Extraordinary Time, acclaimed economic historian Marc Levinson describes how the end of the postwar boom reverberated throughout the global economy, bringing energy shortages, financial crises, soaring unemployment, and a gnawing sense of insecurity. Politicians, suddenly unable to deliver the prosperity of years past, railed haplessly against currency speculators, oil sheikhs, and other forces they could not control. From Sweden to Southern California, citizens grew suspicious of their newly ineffective governments and rebelled against the high taxes needed to support social welfare programs enacted when coffers were flush. Almost everywhere, the pendulum swung to the right, bringing politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to power. But their promise that deregulation, privatization, lower tax rates, and smaller government would restore economic security and robust growth proved unfounded. Although the guiding hand of the state could no longer deliver the steady economic performance the public had come to expect, free-market policies were equally unable to do so. The golden age would not come back again. A sweeping reappraisal of the last sixty years of world history, An Extraordinary Time offers forces us to come to terms with how little control we actually have over the economy.

Basic Books

Basic Books

Marc Levinson

Marc Levinson

No of Pages
336
Publisher
Basic Books
ISBN-13
9780465061983
Awards
None
Book Format
Hardcover
Published Date
Nov 8, 2016

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Not in any circle

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Author InterviewInterview with Marc Levinson 

Interview Date : Jan 17, 2017

Please sign up to listen entire interview of at least 45 min.

Interview Summary

In the last four decades, the United States and other developed nations have struggled to revive economic growth above 3%. Politicians and economists of all stripes have tried Keynesian stimulus, price controls, and conservative solutions ranging from free market incentives to privatization.

With the help of comprehensive research, Marc Levinson explains argues that these political and economic measures have failed to achieve higher economic growth because of a permanent slowing of productivity growth. He also reminds us that the coveted growth target, once set as a benchmark in the booming years after World War II, is inherently elusive in the reality of today's economy. 

Key Topics

  • Why was the period between 1948 and 1973 an extraordinary time for the global economy?
  • What led to above-normal growth in that time period?
  • What is productivity and how can it be measured?
  • +

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. The New Economics 15
2. The Magic Square 27
3. Chaos 47
4. Crisis of Faith 57
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About Marc Levinson

Marc Levinson began as a journalist, reporting on business for Time magazine and the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) and serving as editorial director of the daily Journal of Commerce in New York. After several years writing about business and economics for Newsweek, he became finance and economics editor of The Economist in London. In 1999 Marc joined the predecessor to JP Morgan Chase, where he created a unique industry economics function that married economic research with stock and bond analysis and developed a line of environmental research products for institutional investor clients. He has had stints advising Congress on transportation and industry issues and serving as senior fellow for international business at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has consulted for a number of businesses and public agencies.

Marc’s career has been eclectic, but with a common thread: his professional life has centered on making complex economic issues understandable to the general public. Much of his work has been international in focus, dealing with international trade and globalization, international finance and financial regulation, and energy and environmental issues that cross international borders.

He has written six books that merge my interests in economics and business strategy with historical research. He has also written many articles for leading publications, such as Harvard Business Review and Foreign Affairs, and contributed historical pieces to Echoes, the former economic history blog at Bloomberg.com. He frequently reviews books for The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Marc earned a bachelor’s degree from Antioch College, a master’s degrees from Georgia State University and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a doctorate from the City University of New York.

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Testimonials

"A smoothly written account of the U.S. and the world economy.... Mr. Levinson is a smart enough author not to be tempted into some breathless mono-causal account of either the earlier 'boom' or the later slowdown. He's excellent at description."

Wall Street Journal

"Levinson, an economist and ex-journalist, has the virtues of both-an eye for detail and an understanding of the broader picture."

Washington PostBest Economics Books of 2016

"A smoothly written account of the U.S. and the world economy.... Mr. Levinson is a smart enough author not to be tempted into some breathless mono-causal account of either the earlier 'boom' or the later slowdown. He's excellent at description."

Wall Street Journal
+

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