Econoclasts - Intercollegiate Studies Institute


The Rebels Who Sparked the Supply-Side Revolution and Restored American Prosperity

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“Riveting . . . The landmark new history of the supply-side revolution.” —National Review

The groundbreaking Econoclasts is more than just the definitive history of the supply-side revolution. It also reveals the foundations of America’s prosperity even as those foundations are under attack.

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An extraordinary look at the best way out of economic crisis

Ever since America descended into economic crisis the comparisons to the Great Depression have come fast and furious. Incredibly, we have heard almost nothing about a much more recent economic calamity: the ruinous “” of the 1970s— second-worst decade in American economic history. But now, in the riveting, groundbreaking book Econoclasts, historian Brian Domitrovic reminds us that the twentieth century’s greatest economic counterrevolution emerged in response to that crisis: supply-side economics.

In a pulsing narrative, Domitrovic tells the remarkable story of the economists, journalists, Washington staffers, and (ultimately) politicians who showed America how to get out of the 1970s funk and ushered in an unprecedented quarter-century run of growth and opportunity. Here we meet Robert Mundell, the brilliant economist who held court over martinis in a Manhattan steakhouse; his gregarious cohort Arthur Laffer, chief economist on the president’s budget staff at the tender age of thirty; Robert Bartley, the Wall Street Journal’s reticent editorial-page editor who became the first impresario of supply-side economics; Jack Kemp, the football-star-turned-congressman who led the fight to turn supply-side theory into practice; Norman Ture, the relentless economic forecaster who faced down Alan Greenspan; Jude Wanniski, the eccentric, hot rod- reporter whose best-selling book touched off the supply-side revolution; and a host of other fascinating figures who helped upend the economic establishment.

Based on the author’s years of archival research, Econoclasts explodes numerous myths about supply-side economics, including its ” myth”— famous incident in which Laffer sketched a simple curve on a napkin. Domitrovic conclusively demonstrates that supply-side advocates did not invent a doctrine out of whole cloth. Their central insight was that the two massive means of governmental intrusion in the economy— income tax and the Federal Reserve— the primary role in starting and perpetuating any economic crisis. What’s more, Domitrovic shows that the specific combination of tax cuts and stable money had an unbroken record of success long before it went by the name “-side economics”: in 1962, when JFK ended the economic sluggishness that had brought three recessions in Eisenhower’s eight-year presidency; in 1947, when the United States embarked on the postwar boom; and in 1922, when Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon inaugurated the Roaring ’20s by imploring the Fed to keep the price level stable and arranging for Congress to slash income-tax rates.

Econoclasts is a masterful narrative history in the tradition of Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man and John Steele Gordon’s An Empire of Wealth. It is also impeccably timely: this is a story we must know if we are to understand the foundations of America’s prosperity— that are now under increasing attack.

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Riveting . . . The landmark new history of the supply-side revolution . . . Until I read Econoclasts, I had never fully appreciated the heroism of the supply-side revolution’s founders.”

National Review

“Worried about our country? You need to read this. . . . [Domitrovic] tells this neglected but enormously important story with sympathetic verve, superb research, and acutely drawn sketches of the principal characters. It has sharp relevance today.”

Steve Forbes, Forbes magazine

“No book until now has offered an authoritative history of the supply-side movement. Domitrovic fills the void. And what a history it is.”

American Spectator

Brilliant . . . This is the book Americans need to read now.”

Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report

This entertaining account should be required reading. . . . A first-rate storyteller as well as historian, Domitrovic skillfully unfolds the events that ignited the supply-side revolution.”

Weekly Standard

An amazing history of one of the most important chapters in the evolution of eco­nomic thought.”

Stephen Moore, Claremont Review of Books

Couldn’t be more timely. Econoclasts reminds us of what’s wrong with current policy.”

Amity Shlaes, bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge

“I’ve never read anything on the subject of economics that surpasses this extraordinary book.”

Wilfred McClay, SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Should serve as a roadmap to revitalizing the private sector . . . Vivid and deeply researched . . . In our time of loose money and rising taxes, supply-side’s second revolution may begin with this book.”

Real Clear Markets

Fascinating. Domitrovic has corrected a glaring intellectual deficiency with his new history of the supply-side movement. He is to be commended for his masterful gathering of evidence and his capturing of the feel of the era, of the passion of Robert Mundell, Arthur Laffer, Robert Bartley, and the other supply-side pioneers.”

Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University, author of Going Broke by Degree

“Domitrovic fills a gaping hole in the historical literature.”


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