I\’ve been ambling towards this conclusion for years

And now someone has actually reached it properly:

This thoughtful re-examination of the history of U.S. economic growth is built around a novel claim, that potential output grew dramatically across the Depression years (1929-1941) and that this advance provided the foundation for the economic and military success of the United States during the Second World War as well as for the golden age (1948-1973) that followed.  Alexander J. Field takes a fresh look at growth data and concludes that, behind a backdrop of double-digit unemployment, the 1930s actually experienced very high rates of technological and organizational innovation, fueled by the maturing of a privately funded research and development system and the government-funded build-out of the country\’s surface road infrastructure. This substantive new volume in the Yale Series in Economic and Financial History invites renewed discussions on productivity growth over the last century and a half and on our current prospects.

If this is true (and as I say, I am already pre-disposed to believe that it is) then this has huge politico-economic implications.

For there are those who rather enjoy pointing out that the grwoth rates 1945-1980 ish were rather higher than those 1980ish to now. And that thus the times of planning, of social democracy, of high tax rates, are correlated with the times of high growth.

But, if the post war growth is in fact an artefact of the no or little pre war growth, while productivity and technology were still advancing, then it is indeed simply a correlation, not a causation.

I have a horrible feeling this book will either be ignored or trashed. For it will be politically uncomfortable for many.

2 thoughts on “I\’ve been ambling towards this conclusion for years”

  1. …behind a backdrop of double-digit unemployment, the 1930s actually experienced very high rates of technological and organizational innovation, fueled by the maturing of a privately funded research and development system and the government-funded build-out of the country’s surface road infrastructure.

    I thought this was pretty much consensual – you know, the creation of Metroland and a new economy based on cars, electronics and consumer goods, in the UK mostly confined to the South and Midlands.

    Also isn’t it somewhat tautological to argue that …this advance provided the foundation for the economic and military success of the United States during the Second World War as well as for the golden age (1948-1973) that followed? How could it not?

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