Robbing Peter to Pay Paul


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Power, Profits, and Productivity in Modern America

Samuel Evan Milner

View Inside Format: HC - Paper over Board
Price: $55.00
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Concentrated market power and the weakened sway of corporate stakeholders over management have emerged as leading concerns of American political economy. Samuel Milner provides a historical context for contemporary efforts to resolve these anxieties by examining the contest to control the distribution of corporate income during the mid‑twentieth century. During this “Golden Age of American Capitalism,” apprehension about the debilitating consequences of industrial concentration fueled efforts to ensure that management would share the fruits of progress with workers, consumers, and society as a whole. Focusing on wage and price determination in steel, automobiles, and electrical equipment, Milner reveals how the management of concentrated industries understood its ability to distribute income to its stakeholders as well as why economists, courts, and public policymakers struggled to curtail the exercise of that market power at its source.

Samuel Evan Milner is a David M. Rubenstein Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School.

"Using deep research in business, labor, and government archives, Samuel Milner explains how and why American policymakers struggled for decades to solve the problem of inflation. This is a valuable new contribution to our understanding of 20th-century U.S. history."—Mark R. Wilson, author of Destructive Creation: American Business and the Winning of World War II

"This excellent book takes a fascinating new approach to analyze wage price adjustments in U.S. big business in the twentieth century. It shows how oligopoly market power was ultimately limited by the constraints of macroeconomic fundamentals."—Michael Bordo, author of The Historical Performance of the Federal Reserve: The Importance of Rules


"In a deeply researched, probing analysis, Milner takes us on an insightful journey through presidential administrations from Roosevelt to Reagan to reveal how each balanced the often conflicting demands of heavy industry’s corporate managers, labor unions, consumers, investors, and government officials. An important contribution to the new literature on American capitalism."—Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

“Milner has meticulously resurrected a lost world of oligopolistic managers, union bosses and interventionist politicians and traced the origins of the 1970s wage-price spiral that brought the corporatist era into disrepute and dissolution.”—Niall Ferguson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“Samuel Milner's carefully researched study is full of thought-provoking material for students and teachers alike."—Daniel Raff, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
ISBN: 9780300257342
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
344 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4