Introduction The rst half of the 1970s will probably come to be regarded as a watershed in the development of western capitalist economies. Effectively, the period marked the end of the ‘super-growth’ phase of the post-war period, which culminated in the feverish and speculative boom of the early 1970s. From that time, according to Samuel Brittan (Financial Times, 14 February 1980), ‘everything seems to have gone sour and we have had slower growth, rising unemployment, faster in ation, creeping trade restrictions and all the symptoms of stag ation’. Indeed, compared with the relatively placid and successful decades of the 1950s and 1960s, that of the 1970s was an extremely turbulent period, reminiscent in some respects of the inter-war years, though parallels between the two periods can easily be pushed too far.