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The World Economy Since the Wars: A Personal…

The World Economy Since the Wars: A Personal View (1994)

by John Kenneth Galbraith

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Economics is not my subject so, anyone who can make it appear rational and, relatively, straight forward gets my vote. I actually felt that I was understanding this book.

Although this book is entitled, The World Economy Since the Wars', Galbraith spends some considerable (and much appreciated!) time explaining the pre-war economy. I "knew" that it was WW II which saw the UK leave the gold standard: it was therefore, something of a surprise to learn that we left at least a year before the war.

Galbraith takes us up to the early 1990's; a time when the world was suffering a recession caused by junk bonds, as opposed to the early 21st century when the economic collapse was caused by the subprime lending fiasco. One interesting, and highly worrying, statement that he makes (and backs up with evidence) is that economies do not have to bounce back to a position of near full employment and rising living standards. He shows that the Great Depression of the 1920's stabilised in the 30's but that full employment was only achieved with the on set of a World War.

This is an eminently readable book which, more by luck than judgement, I have read at the right time. Galbraith raises many points which are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them. He is also 'on the money' when it comes to the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the time of writing, he was probably seen as something of a Jonah; the international mood was one of celebration that capitalism had defeated the supposedly mighty communist system. Galbraith expresses doubts as to the overnight break up of the system and warns of the creation of the oligarchs, who undoubtedly rule the dictatorial Russia of today. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Jan 9, 2012 |
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