The Politics of the Price Level

The economist Albert Hirschmann suggested in 1985 that varied state responses to inflation defined the global political economy of the second half of the twentieth century. In the second decade of the twenty-first, following the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, rising prices—and struggles over how to manage them—once again dominate the political and economic scene. This series, co-edited and introduced by historian Andrew Yamakawa Elrod, examines the price level—how it has been understood historically, its sectoral specificities, and the political and institutional arrangements that govern it.


Pragmatic Prices

An excerpt from How China Escaped Shock Therapy

European and American traditions of economic theorizing on price control are intimately connected with war—practices and debates over price control peaked amid the two world wars. The experience of the First World War had been one of inflation and limited…


The Price of Oil

The history of control and decontrol in the oil market

In October 2021 the price of gasoline in the United States rose to its highest level in seven years. There were many reasons for this: surging demand following a year-and-a-half of lockdown, a slower than expected recovery of oil production,…


Politics and the Price Level

Inflation and the governance of prices

In 1959, the leaders of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC, now the OECD) appointed a Group of Independent Experts “to study the experience of rising prices” in the recent history of the advanced capitalist countries. Between the end…