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1 - Understanding the 1990s: a long-run perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2010

Paul W. Rhode
Affiliation:
Zachary Taylor Smith Professor, Economics Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Gianni Toniolo
Affiliation:
Professor of Economic History, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”; Research Professor of Economics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Paul W. Rhode
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Gianni Toniolo
Affiliation:
Università degli Studi di Roma 'Tor Vergata'
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Summary

Introduction

The twentieth century both opened and closed with a bang: the belle époque before 1914 and the “roaring nineties” (Stiglitz, 2003) just past. It was only after the First World War that people looked back at the 1895–1914 period with nostalgia as a “beautiful era” of spreading prosperity, peaceful technical progress, low inflation, and modest financial instability. The 1990s, on the contrary, were seen as the “best of times” (Johnson, 2001) by many of those who lived through the decade – at least, those in the United States. Will future historians confirm this view? If the twentieth century is any guide, much will depend on how the twenty-first century unfolds. If peace again prevails, if productivity growth continues apace at the economic center and spreads to the periphery, if means are found to govern the international economy in ways that make the costs of globalization socially acceptable, then the 1990s may well be remembered as a moment in human history when the foundations were laid for a long period of sustainable growth. If, on the other hand, social, political, and economic instability prevails, as it did after the First World War, then people may indeed look back at the 1990s as “the best of times,” creating the myth of another belle époque. Posterity will magnify the virtues of the last decade in the twentieth century and ignore its shortcomings.

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The Global Economy in the 1990s
A Long-Run Perspective
, pp. 1 - 20
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Understanding the 1990s: a long-run perspective
    • By Paul W. Rhode, Zachary Taylor Smith Professor, Economics Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Professor of Economic History, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”; Research Professor of Economics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Edited by Paul W. Rhode, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Università degli Studi di Roma 'Tor Vergata'
  • Book: The Global Economy in the 1990s
  • Online publication: 14 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616464.002
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  • Understanding the 1990s: a long-run perspective
    • By Paul W. Rhode, Zachary Taylor Smith Professor, Economics Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Professor of Economic History, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”; Research Professor of Economics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Edited by Paul W. Rhode, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Università degli Studi di Roma 'Tor Vergata'
  • Book: The Global Economy in the 1990s
  • Online publication: 14 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616464.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Understanding the 1990s: a long-run perspective
    • By Paul W. Rhode, Zachary Taylor Smith Professor, Economics Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Professor of Economic History, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”; Research Professor of Economics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Edited by Paul W. Rhode, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Gianni Toniolo, Università degli Studi di Roma 'Tor Vergata'
  • Book: The Global Economy in the 1990s
  • Online publication: 14 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616464.002
Available formats
×