The new Alexander J. Field book

Field is one of the world’s greatest economic historians, and the title is The Economic Consequences of U.S. Mobilization for The Second World War.  I am just starting to read it, here is some of the early material:

The initial aim of this book is to document what for many will surely be the surprisingly disappointing record of manufacturing productivity growth during the war.  A second objective is to understand the effects of the war on the level and rate of growth of potential output in the postwar period.  Getting a fix on that is what matters when we ask whether or to what degree the war laid the foundations for growth in the years after 1948…

The empirical sections of this book will show, inter alia, that both labor productivity and TFP in manufacturing declined during the war in comparison with 1941 and grew anemically after the war…

A principal argument can be stated succinctly: TFP in manufacturing fell during the war because the conflict forced a wrenching shift away from products and processes in which manufacturers had a great deal of experience toward the production of goods in which they had little.

Obviously an important work, I look forward to reading the rest.  Due out October 18.


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