IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Governing economic futures through the war on inflation


  • Derek P McCormack


This paper explores how efforts to understand, present, and act upon the futures of inflation participate in the governance of contemporary economic life. The point of departure is the claim that inflation is both an economic and an affective fact, subsisting as a potentially disruptive event within contemporary liberal democracies whose chief concern is to secure the conditions for the value-activating process of economic growth. Understanding efforts to secure these conditions requires attention to the anticipatory processes through which the futures of inflation are generatively disclosed in the present as matters of public concern. In attending to these processes, this paper focuses on how the problem of inflation, and efforts to fight it, are linked closely with the logics and rhetoric of warfare. First, it outlines how interest in these processes emerged, at least in part, through attempts during the Second World War to render the futures of inflation actionable via public information campaigns. Second, it highlights the role of presidential speeches and addresses in ‘the war on inflation’ in the US during the 1970s and early 1980s. Third, and finally, the paper considers the importance of the promissory logics of inflation targeting in contemporary liberal democracies, in which inflation figures as a disruptive and generalised threat lurking in economic activity. In each case, efforts to fight inflation are based upon the premise that techniques of disclosure are a necessary element of generating the very futures they seek to make public. To govern inflation is therefore as much about governing orientations towards futures as it is about acting upon a well-defined epistemic object. In concluding, the paper speculates upon the wider implications of this claim for understanding how economic life is governed. Keywords: affective economies, economic geography, futures, expectations, inflation

Suggested Citation

  • Derek P McCormack, 2012. "Governing economic futures through the war on inflation," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(7), pages 1536-1553, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:7:p:1536-1553

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:7:p:1536-1553. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.