September 30, 2012
ON THE EVE OF PERESTROIKA: “Something has gone awry in the U.S. economy over the past decade,” Fred Bauer writes at the Daily Caller. “The Cold War provides a troubling parallel here:”
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Soviet growth began to slow considerably. By how much it slowed remains a point of contention (the notorious secrecy of Kremlin bureaucrats makes exact economic numbers hard to pin down), but official C.I.A. numbers estimated that average annual economic growth for the Soviet Union was about 1.9% between 1975 and 1980 and 1.8% between 1980 and 1985. These estimates would give the Soviet Union a faster average growth rate between 1975 and 1985 than the United States has seen in the past decade. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many charged the C.I.A. with overestimating Soviet growth, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. An alternative measure, established by economist G.I. Khanin, finds that the U.S.S.R. grew at an annual rate of 1% between 1975 and 1980 and at an annual rate of 0.6% between 1980 and 1985. This statistic puts U.S. growth in a slightly better light, but one can only take so much solace from the fact that the United States has still had almost five years of average annual growth at or below the most pessimistic estimates of Soviet growth rates in the early 1980s. Even by the standards of a Soviet five-year plan, the last five years of the American economy’s growth have been disappointing.