The rate of profit and economic stagnation in the United States economy

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

In the first thirty years after World War II, the US economy performed very well. The rate of growth averaged 4—5%, the rate of unemployment was seldom above 5%, inflation was almost non-existent (1—2%), and the living standards of workers improved steadily. These were the ‘good old days'. However, this long period of expansion and prosperity ended in the 1970s. Since then, both the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation have been much higher than before, and the average real wages of workers (i.e. the purchasing power of wages) have declined some 20%. Productivity growth has also slowed down and the debt burden of both capitalist enterprises and the Federal government has increased dramatically. It is in this sense that we may refer to the ‘economic crisis’ of the US economy over the last two decades. This crisis has certainly not been as severe as the Great Depression of the 1930s, but the economic performance has been significantly worse than in the early post-war period.

The rate of profit and economic stagnation in the United States economy

in Historical Materialism

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