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By Milton Friedman

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The major contractions or depressions require more attention. The most notable of them prior to the establishment of the Federal Reserve Page 10 System were (1) the depressed period of the late 1830's and early 1840's; (2) the contraction from 1873-79; (3) the mid-1890's; and (4) the contraction of 1907-08. In each case monetary factors played a critical role. The Period from 1837 to 1843 The banking panic of 1837 was followed by exceedingly disturbed economic conditions and a long contraction to 1843 that was interrupted only by a brief recovery from 1838 to 1839.

The collapse of the Bretton Woods system was the final step in the abandonment of any link, however indirect, between money and a commodity. " To a large extent, this has happened. S. and the world if it had happened in 1960, or even in 1969, as a matter of deliberate policy, rather than in 1971 in response to pressures produced by a decade of monetary mismanagement. 1 The current monetary system of the world has no historical precedent. For the first time, every major country has a pure fiat currency, not as a temporary expedient, but as a permanent system.

In the United States, while Nixon's price and wage controls repressed inflation for a time, continued monetary growth built up pressures that erupted in much higher rates of inflation accompanied by instability in output and employment. A new term, "stagflation," was coined to describe the phenomenon of rising inflation accompanied by rising unemployment. The accelerating inflation in the United States was finally brought to an end in the early 1980s by an extremely restrictive monetary policy, at the cost of a severe recession in 1981-82.

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