Robert J. Samuelson: The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath


For the past quarter-century, Robert J. Samuelson has written about business, politics, and economics for The Washington Post and Newsweek.

His masterful and eminently readable new book, The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence, may just be the most important non-fiction volume published this year-or next year, for that matter. Certainly, in a world of economic chaos and seemingly never-ending bailouts and "stimulus packages," The Great Inflation is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding what happens when the government tries to tame the business cycle and fine-tune the economy as if it were a two-stroke engine. (Are you listening, Henry Paulson? George W. Bush? Congress? Barack Obama?)

The Great Inflation tells the story of how smug economists and politicians in the post-war era almost wrecked the U.S. and how President Ronald Reagan and Federal Reserve head Paul Volcker tamed double-digit inflation in the 1980s. Samuelson provides a rich history of wisdom triumphing over hubris-and he provides a singular commentary on just where the U.S. economy might be headed for the next decade or more.

Samuelson sat down with's Nick Gillespie in December for a wide-ranging conversation about economics, media, politics, and the desperate need for reality-based commentary. The interview was filmed by Michael C. Moynihan and edited by Dan Hayes. Approximately 50 minutes.

For an audio podcast of this interview, go here.