01 November 2023, The Tablet

Boom and bust


Boom and bust
 

When it first appeared in the English language, the word ­“economics” meant household management. It’s a telling derivation. The economy, like the household, is the kind of thing that we manage, imposing order and exercising control. As recent attempts to restrain inflation, set interest rates, improve productivity and limit budget deficits have shown, it doesn’t always look as if this particular British household can be managed. In their own very different ways, these three books are all about our inherently precarious attempts to control the economy in the twentieth century, during which, according to Brad De Long, history became economic.

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