A Longer Look at the Sixties

by Lee Preston



The decade of the nineteen sixties has been ushered in with an unprecedented discussion of the long-term trend of economic growth in the U.S. All of the current forecasts for the sixties explicitly assume the absence of catastrophic depression and of full-scale war. All assume implicitly a continuation of approximately the present state of military preparedness and of something like, the postwar pattern of monetary and fiscal policies with the concomitant phenomena of creeping inflation and an occasional slight recession. In order to place changes in the level of output in perspective in terms of their relative significance, the rate of change from year to year is frequently used as a common unit for describing and comparing changes over time. The "Soaring Sixties" cannot, however, be projected from the record of the fifties nor, it would seem, from the pattern of economic growth which has characterized the U.S. economy since the turn of the century. It is, perhaps, not uninteresting to recall that one of the most rapidly expanding economic activities of the late twenties was the production of rosy forecasts of long-run economic growth.

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