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Nixon's Economy : Booms, Busts, Dollars, and Votes Hardcover – April 24, 1998
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From Library Journal
Matusow (history, Rice Univ.; The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960's, 1984) offers the first complete history of Nixonomics. Nixon generally ignored fiscal and monetary matters, preferring to devote himself to foreign policy. George Shultz, Treasury secretary, is lauded as Nixon's finest political appointment; but John Connally, the former Texas governor and a "shameless opportunist," became economic czar by subordinating his responsibilities to Nixon's political agenda. The president's attempt to create a new political majority was dashed almost as much by his failed policies and ineffective responses to the great recession and inflation of 1973-75 as by Watergate. Matusow provides lucid accounts of such complicated issues as wage-and-price controls, dollar devaluation, demise of the gold standard, and the emergence of the global economy. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A fascinating book. Matusow writes very well and manages to make complicated economic ideas very clear. His portraits of major players such as Herbert Stein, John Connally, and George Shultz are extraordinarily shrewd. The result is a history of presidential mismanagement that reveals a great deal, not only about the Nixon years, but also about the formidable obstacles that block the making of well-informed and coherent federal economic policy."—James T. Patterson, author of Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 "An important and stimulating book that contributes substantially to the ongoing reinterpretation of Nixon's presidency, vividly demonstrating how Nixon's quest for a new majority animated and gave coherence to his economic policy choices."—Bruce J. Schulman, author of Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism
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Rather stunning to me was the intensity of this Republican administration putting its thumb heavily on the scales, manipulating wages and prices. This was part of a full-press effort to manipulate the economy going into Nixon's reelection, and thereafter (the "before" phase working seemingly well, until the wheels came off in the "after" phase, and quickly). All this helped to steer us into an era of ruinous inflation. confounding politicians and the public for years. This is a good illustration of the unintended consequences and frustrated (questionably) good intentions of legions of economists and other swell heads, nudging things around. As this book shows, there is plenty of federal manipulation of markets such as commodity markets (farm price supports and so on) to this day, but an administration (even a Democrat one) trying to manipulate basic wages and prices at this (very public) level would seem unthinkable today, widely decried as the worst sort of socialism. Nixon was, in some ways, as I've heard it said somewhere, the last New Deal president. After LBJ's debacles, these runaway economics really sealed the fate of the old order, pre-Reagan. Ford and Carter, I think, just wallowed in the wake of this.
Thus, this book is extremely useful. Almost month-by-month it describes the swinging pendulum of booms and busts that resulted from Nixon's economic mismanagement and the world economy's response to it. This is a very thorough work, meticulously documented. The author carefully documents endless cases of sacrifice of economic policies to blatantly short-term political goals.
It's also a good narrative, it weaves all the facts and explanation together, and it's organized very well. I found it very easy to read and understand it. It sheds much light on the economic causes of all those strange events of the 1970s. It's also a great companion to a more general history of USA during those years.