An extraordinary look at the best way out of economic crisis
Ever since America descended into economic crisis the comparisons to the Great Depression have come fast and furious. Incredibly, we have heard almost nothing about a much more recent economic calamity: the ruinous "stagflation" of the 1970s—the second-worst decade in American economic history. But now, in the riveting, groundbreaking book Econoclasts, historian Brian Domitrovic reminds us that the twentieth century’s greatest economic counterrevolution emerged in response to that crisis: supply-side economics.
In a pulsing narrative, Domitrovic tells the remarkable story of the economists, journalists, Washington staffers, and (ultimately) politicians who showed America how to get out of the 1970s funk and ushered in an unprecedented quarter-century run of growth and opportunity. Here we meet Robert Mundell, the brilliant economist who held court over martinis in a Manhattan steakhouse; his gregarious cohort Arthur Laffer, chief economist on the president’s budget staff at the tender age of thirty; Robert Bartley, the Wall Street Journal’s reticent editorial-page editor who became the first impresario of supply-side economics; Jack Kemp, the football-star-turned-congressman who led the fight to turn supply-side theory into practice; Norman Ture, the relentless economic forecaster who faced down Alan Greenspan; Jude Wanniski, the eccentric, hot rod-driving reporter whose best-selling book touched off the supply-side revolution; and a host of other fascinating figures who helped upend the economic establishment.
Based on the author’s years of archival research, Econoclasts explodes numerous myths about supply-side economics, including its "creation myth"—the famous incident in which Laffer sketched a simple curve on a napkin. Domitrovic conclusively demonstrates that supply-side advocates did not invent a doctrine out of whole cloth. Their central insight was that the two massive means of governmental intrusion in the economy—the income tax and the Federal Reserve—play the primary role in starting and perpetuating any economic crisis. What’s more, Domitrovic shows that the specific combination of tax cuts and stable money had an unbroken record of success long before it went by the name "supply-side economics": in 1962, when JFK ended the economic sluggishness that had brought three recessions in Eisenhower’s eight-year presidency; in 1947, when the United States embarked on the postwar boom; and in 1922, when Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon inaugurated the Roaring ’20s by imploring the Fed to keep the price level stable and arranging for Congress to slash income-tax rates.
Econoclasts is a masterful narrative history in the tradition of Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man and John Steele Gordon’s An Empire of Wealth. It is also impeccably timely: this is a story we must know if we are to understand the foundations of America’s prosperity—foundations that are now under increasing attack.
|What They're Saying...||
“Riveting . . . The landmark new history of the supply-side revolution . . . Until I read Econoclasts, I had never fully appreciated the heroism of the supply-side revolution’s founders.”
“Worried about our country? You need to read this. . . . [Domitrovic] tells this neglected but enormously important story with sympathetic verve, superb research, and acutely drawn sketches of the principal characters. It has sharp relevance today.”
“No book until now has offered an authoritative history of the supply-side movement. Domitrovic fills the void. And what a history it is.”
“Brilliant . . . This is the book Americans need to read now.”
“This entertaining account should be required reading. . . . A first-rate storyteller as well as historian, Domitrovic skillfully unfolds the events that ignited the supply-side revolution.”
“An amazing history of one of the most important chapters in the evolution of economic thought.”
“Couldn’t be more timely. Econoclasts reminds us of what’s wrong with current policy.”
“I’ve never read anything on the subject of economics that surpasses this extraordinary book.”
“Should serve as a roadmap to revitalizing the private sector . . . Vivid and deeply researched . . . In our time of loose money and rising taxes, supply-side’s second revolution may begin with this book.”
“Fascinating. Domitrovic has corrected a glaring intellectual deficiency with his new history of the supply-side movement. He is to be commended for his masterful gathering of evidence and his capturing of the feel of the era, of the passion of Robert Mundell, Arthur Laffer, Robert Bartley, and the other supply-side pioneers.”
“Domitrovic fills a gaping hole in the historical literature.”
|Eligible for Readers Club Discount||Yes|