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, author of The Box, and The Great A&P, 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. 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 forces us to come to terms with how little control we actually have over the economy.