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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The European Economy Between the Wars

Finally economic history starts to get interesting and useful once you can read about the post World War I economies of Europe.  There are still plenty of tables to be found here but at least there is some narrative and it starts to resemble the history you know and love.

Highlights of the years between the wars include reparations,  German hyperinflation, and of course the Great Depression.

The best chapter was the one that discussed the observation of Marienthal by sociologists.  Marienthal was a textile town that was completely devastated when the textile mill that supported the town shut down.  The workers had unemployment insurance but the unemployment wouldn't allow them to work at all. If someone who was receiving payouts worked at all, even carrying milk to market for a portion of the milk or taking in any kind of sewing they were cut off from the payments.  The town essentially became a place where people sat around and played cards all day and did nothing.  Even the city parks and common areas became overgrown.

So is it worth a read?  Only if you're into IS/LM curves, collapse of demand, and tariff policy.  I enjoyed this more than the other textbooks for my class but I know this won't be for most people.

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