Although NEDC’s history fits logically into the cycle of successive governments, it can also be divided into two phases, either side of 1973–4: the first being a period when the rapid growth characteristic of the post-war decade tailed away, and the second in which production and productivity growth rates both declined sharply. Having been concerned with central indicative planning in one era, NEDC turned in the other to industrial adjustment: from concern with broad economic management to microeconomic policy in more narrowly defined and selected areas of manufacturing. Planning had already become, by 1975, ‘a continuous forward exercise of foresight, evolving practical responses to the conditions foreseen’,1 and strategy a matter of flexible response, rather than working to implement the firm targets of early documents like the Green Book and the National Plan.
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