In 1945, many Europeans still heated with coal, cooled their food with ice, and lacked indoor plumbing. Today, things could hardly be more different. Over the second half of the twentieth century, the average European's buying power tripled, while working hours fell by a third. The European Economy since 1945 is a broad, accessible, forthright account of the extraordinary development of Europe's economy since the end of World War II. Barry Eichengreen argues that the continent's history has been critical to its economic performance, and that it will continue to be so going forward.
Challenging standard views that basic economic forces were behind postwar Europe's success, Eichengreen shows how Western Europe in particular inherited a set of institutions singularly well suited to the economic circumstances that reigned for almost three decades. Economic growth was facilitated by solidarity-centered trade unions, cohesive employers' associations, and growth-minded governments--all legacies of Europe's earlier history. For example, these institutions worked together to mobilize savings, finance investment, and stabilize wages.
However, this inheritance of economic and social institutions that was the solution until around 1973--when Europe had to switch from growth based on brute-force investment and the acquisition of known technologies to growth based on increased efficiency and innovation--then became the problem.
Thus, the key questions for the future are whether Europe and its constituent nations can now adapt their institutions to the needs of a globalized knowledge economy, and whether in doing so, the continent's distinctive history will be an obstacle or an asset.
"In The European Economy Since 1945, Barry Eichengreen . . . presents not only a comprehensive account of Europe's postwar economic experience but also an important analysis of capitalist development more generally. . . . [B]y demonstrating how institutions helpful in one era can be counterproductive in another, Eichengreen has important lessons about the future to teach both policy makers and publics."--Sheri Berman, New York Times Book Review
"Eichengreen, even as he presents a lot of evidence, proves himself to be a master of exposition of the big story. And none could be bigger than the one contained in this book. History will judge it one of the most amazing achievements of the 20th century."--Huw Dixon, Times Higher Education Supplement
"This is a superb overview of a half century of European economic development."--Choice
"An excellent book. . . . I have never read a better [book] on what the European economies have done right and subsequently did wrong. . . . Eichengreen . . . believes that Europe can turn things around, without chucking the basic model, but he doesn't for a moment deny that Europe faces an economic crisis relative to the American model."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
"A characteristic of the best histories is not just a good narrative but a compelling thread that runs through it. Barry Eichengreen's tour de force of postwar European history is that kind of book. . . . His thesis is that Europe's much maligned corporatist institutions played a significant role in achieving the postwar economic miracle, but that these institutions are insufficiently flexible to meet the 21st century's demands. . . . While there can be no such thing as a definitive history of Europe's postwar economy, Eichengreen at least comes close to providing a definitive history of European economic performance, a subject in which he excels. This is in itself no mean achievement."--Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times
Table of Contents
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