Years of Recovery: British Economic Policy 1945-51, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Years of Recovery

British Economic Policy 1945-51, 1st Edition

By Alec Cairncross


552 pages

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Years of Recovery was the first comprehensive study of the transition from war to peace in the British economy under the Labour government of 1945–51. It includes a full account of the successive crises and turning-points in those hectic years – the coal and convertibility crises of 1947, devaluation in 1949 and rearmament in 1951. These episodes, apart from their dramatic interest, light up the dilemmas of policy and the underlying economic trends and pressures in a country delicately poised between economic disaster and full recovery. Many of the debates on economic policy that are still in progress – on incomes policy, demand management, the welfare state and relations with Europe, for example – have their roots in those years. Many of the trends originating then persisted long afterwards.

The book also examines the interaction between events and policy and the role in a managed economy of the policy-making machine. Now that the public records are open to 1954, it has been possible to make use of official documents to review the possibilities of action that were canvassed and the thinking and differences of opinion that underlay ministerial decisions. Combining personal involvement with thorough research, this fascinating study will be a major contribution to our understanding of post-war economic policy.

Alec Cairncross was Chancellor of the University of Glasgow and a former Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford. He spent the years covered by this volume as a civil servant in London, Berlin and Paris before moving to Glasgow as Professor of Applied Economics. This classic book of some of his most brilliant research was first published in 1985.

Table of Contents

List of figures vii

List of tables viii

Preface xi

part one

one The post-war situation 3

two The years of recovery: an overview 17

three The machinery of government 47

part two

four External economic policy: the background 61

five The American loan 88

six The convertibility crisis of 1947 121

seven Devaluation, 1949 165

eight Rearmament, 1950–1 212

nine Robot, 1952 234

ten Britain and Europe 272

part three

eleven The planned economy 299

twelve Direct controls 333

thirteen The coal crisis 354

fourteen Manpower and the labour market 385

fifteen Fiscal policy, demand management and inflation 409

sixteen Monetary policy 427

seventeen Capital investment 446

eighteen Nationalization 463

part four

nineteen Conclusions 499

Select bibliography 510

Index 519

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Economic History

Routledge Library Editions: Economic History reprints some of the most important works on economic history published in the last century.
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BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History