Nominal Rigidities in Action

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 11 2012 2:37 PM

Nominal Rigidities in Action

I have not yet discussed the Pullman Strike in a This Day in Labor History post, but in short, the Panic of 1893 cut into profits of the Pullman company, with its headquarters and model town on the far south side of Chicago. The response of George Pullman was to slash wages while not cutting rents on company housing. Workers walked out under the leadership of Eugene Debs and the American Railway Union. This strike quickly spread across the country, as 19th century railroad strikes were wont to do. Grover Cleveland then sent in the military to crush the strike. This event turned Debs into a socialist and one of America’s leading voices for social and economic justice in the early 20th century.
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That's an extreme case, of course. But there you have it. There's no such thing as an automatic symmetrical deflation. Instead a struggle sets off over who has to eat the losses, and the struggle has negative real consequences on output.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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