Daniel Boorstin Histoire des Américains, coll. Bouquins, Laffont, Paris, 1991
Emmanuel Todd, 2ème de la biblio
Galbraith , Economie Hétérodoxe, Seuil, 2007
- Protest Movements
A short description of the movements
Understanding their significance
- The Vietnam War
- The end of the GoldStandard
1950S: Period of stability and prosperity in the US and a certain comfort of life, as opposed to a period of high tensions. We can see a shift in the period, this also applies to the economy.
From 1950 to 1960, increase in population from 151 684 M to 180 671 (+19%). Very fast increase.
The consequence: a rapidly increasing young population, baby boom. Demographicexpansion.
It is reinforced by objective factors, demographic expansion produces economic growth.
Comparison: 1930s: +7.2%
The 1950s: record in a context when already the US has very high demographic expansion compared to European countries.
The expansion of the population also coincides with a rapid shift in urbanization. But more a suburbanization. TheAmerican population is living more and more in cities but not in the center of cities.
Corporate gigantism and Economic preeminence
In the 1950s GM had a turnover that was only a little inferior than the French National Budget. Its sales represented more than the combined resources of the states of NT, NJ, Pen, Ohio, Delaware and all 6 states of New England.
The 0.1 top percent companies (30corporations) represented:
- 1/3 of added value
- 25% of workers
- 1/3 of all salaries
- 40% of all investment
We’re looking at a strong oligopolistic situation.
In the tobacco market: 4 companies, auto market: 3 companies, soap market: 3 companies (essentially).
These oligopolistic situations produced the standard effect is reduced competition, unspoken price fixing.
Ways to reducecompetition
- Having a privileged relationship with the financial circles, making it harder to the new entrants to find financers.
- Exclusionary practices, contracts (very hard to resist)
Gigantism and oligopolism come together. As a result you observe a dilution of capital because as companies grow larger their capital increases, the number of shares they float increases to the point that it isvery difficult for any one shareholder to hold a significant majority.
In the 1960s AT&T had 2M shareholders, GM had more than 1M. This results in a shift of power from shareholders to managers because if none of them has a majority, managers have the final word.
84% of companies were in the hands of professional managers who owned an insignificant share of the company.
These 3 features(corporate gigantism, oligopolism, capital dilution) are important and need to be kept in mind.
There are two forces in the US growth at that time: government spending and dynamic consumer market.
The consumer market
The auto industry is still expanding and among the consumer items that drive the economic activity you have air conditioning, refrigerator… which become massively available inthe US of the 50’s.
In 1956 81% of the households had a TV set
96% had a refrigerator
67% a vacuum cleaner
89% A washing machine
Another important economic feature: diminishing in inequalities:
- 1947: the 5% richest had 17.5% of revenues
- 1957: 15.8
- 1967 15.2
In 1955, the US produced 50% of all good for 6% of theworld population.
GNP (1958 billions of $) GNP (billions of $) GNP/p 1958 $
1950 355 285 2342
1955 438 396 2650
1960 488 504 2699
1965 618 685 3180
Cycles and unemployment
The economy didn’t grow in a stable fashion, a recession in 1953 and a drop in industrial production in 1958 (-14%)
- Unemployment: 1950/3.2M, 1955/2.8M, 1960/3.8M, 1965/3.7M
- Growth relatively modest relative...