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

Reviewed by Gabriel Mathy



The French call the three decades of prosperity after the end of the Second World War Les Trente Glorieuses. This period was glorious for the already wealthy first world, the communist second world, and even for the developing countries in the third world. Prosperity was broadly shared as well, with an ever-growing welfare state and low or declining inequality. This golden age was brought to a crashing halt in the mid-1970s, with the turning point corresponding roughly to the year 1973. Oil prices spiked, causing runaway inflation and requiring major economic readjustments across the globe. Exchange rates that had been fixed and stable became flexible and volatile. Manufacturing went global, leading to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs in the United States and Europe. Inequality rose and the growth of median income stagnated. The developing world's debt binge turned into a crisis when Paul Volcker hiked interest rates to combat the inflation problem. Governments changed their policies to try to combat this crisis, but ultimately were unsuccessful at returning their nations to the golden age of the Wirtschaftswunder.

An Extraordinary Time is an economic history of the postwar golden age that ended in 1973 and the responses to the breakdown of this system in the 1970s and 1980s. The author provides an overview of not only o

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