Deconstructing the Monolith: The Microeconomics of the National Industrial Recovery Act
by Jason E. Taylor
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-0-226-60330-8 | eISBN: 978-0-226-60344-5

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was enacted by Congress in June of 1933 to assist the nation’s recovery during the Great Depression. Its passage ushered in a unique experiment in US economic history: under the NIRA, the federal government explicitly supported, and in some cases enforced, alliances within industries. Antitrust laws were suspended, and companies were required to agree upon industry-level “codes of fair competition” that regulated wages and hours and could implement anti-competitive provisions such as those fixing prices, establishing production quotas, and imposing restrictions on new productive capacity.
            The NIRA is generally viewed as a monolithic program, its dramatic and sweeping effects best measurable through a macroeconomic lens. In this pioneering book, however, Jason E. Taylor examines the act instead using microeconomic tools, probing the uneven implementation of the act’s codes and the radical heterogeneity of its impact across industries and time. Deconstructing the Monolith employs a mixture of archival and empirical research to enrich our understanding of how the program affected the behavior and well-being of workers and firms during the two years NIRA existed as well as in the period immediately following its demise.

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