The Neoliberal Breakthrough, 1971–84
This chapter considers how economic crises led to the breakthrough of transatlantic neoliberal politics in the 1970s. As Great Britain and the United States experienced stagflation—the combination of high unemployment, high inflation, and low or no growth—political leaders and policymakers cast around for serious alternative economic policies to Keynesian demand management. The end of the Bretton Woods international monetary system, two oil price shocks in 1973 and 1979, the Vietnam War, the Watergate break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., Great Britain's International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of 1976, the virtual collapse of British industrial relations, and the failure of the prices and income policies that were supposed to fight inflation in both countries all created a policy vacuum into which neoliberal ideas flowed.
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