Recession During the Cold War: What Was It Like? What's Wrong With Us Now?
By Bryan Caplan
Unemployment is 6.1%, and we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It makes me wonder: What were recessions like during the Cold War? Back in those bad old days, the Worst Case Scenario was truly grim. With a little imagination, you could spin a horror story in which economic crisis led to unrest, unrest led to deeper crisis, and the West spiraled down to communist revolution or Soviet invasion. I know I would have been losing sleep about this sort of thing during the 30s.
So here’s my question for people who remember the Cold War better than I do: Did elites seriously worry that economic downturns might spin out of control and end in communist despotism? If not in the U.S., how about countries like France and Italy with a serious communist presence?
And here’s my question for readers of all ages: If we were able to retain our composure during downturns in the bad old days when we could hear Bolshevik wolves howling in the night, what happened to us? Why are we now afraid of our own shadow, muttering about the end of the world?