August 2, 2021

How Richard Nixon Changed U.S. Economic Policy Forever

Inflation continued to be a problem in 1971, with forecasts showing an acceleration into 1972, which presented a growing political problem for Nixon. Although inflation was unpopular, so were actions such as higher interest rates to moderate it. Those on the left had a simple answer: wage and price controls. On July 20, 1971, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who had helped administer wage and price controls during World War II, testified before the Joint Economic Committee that there was really no choice in the matter because there was no combination of monetary or fiscal policies that could curb inflation without sharply raising the unemployment rate. Continuing, Galbraith said:

There is only one way to have an effective…

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