Vicious Cycle

Vicious Cycle : Presidential Decision Making in the American Political Economy

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American presidents enter office ready to enact a policy-making agenda that will satisfy partisan interests and facilitate re-election to a second term. Economic circumstances, however, may catch presidents in a vicious cycle of economic growth and inflation versus recession and unemployment. Faced with responsibility for the nation's economic health, presidents are often forced to make trade-offs between pursuing political objectives and stabilizing the economy. This volume offers a theoretical framework for explaining how presidents pursue partisan and electoral objectives in office while simultaneously managing the nation's economy. With an approach that bridges several literatures in presidential studies and political economy, the author develops an econometric model of post-war presidential decision-making in the American political economy and examines its relationship to economic decision-making in four presidencies. These case studies - of presidents Eisenhower, Johnson, Carter, and Reagan - offer variation across several analytic dimensions: temporal, partisan, electoral, and institutional. The book concludes that trade-offs between political objectives and institutional responsibility are driven by a transformation in the nature of the American presidency, from an office in which decision-making is anchored in partisan accountability to one constrained by the chief executive's institutional mission. It aims to contribute to a fuller understanding of the residency and political economy and the methodologies that elucidate them.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 161.5 x 235.7 x 22.4mm | 512.57g
  • College Station, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 4 tables, 2 figures, bibliography, index
  • 1585441422
  • 9781585441426

Review quote

"For two decades, political economists have been agreed that a convincing analysis of national economic policy needs to include not only quantitative data about economic conditions and electoral constraints but also qualitative information about the policy choices presidents make. To this challenge, Spiliotes brings a familiarity with the presidential archives that is as intimate as his knowledge of statistical analysis. The result is a balance between the qualitative and the quantitative that will probably annoy both sides. In spite--or perhaps because--of that, Vicious Cycle brings us a good deal closer to a well-rounded understanding of the patterns of economic policy."--M. Stephen Weatherford, Professor of Political Science, University of California
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About Constantine J. Spiliotes

CONSTANTINE J. SPILIOTES is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.
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