Did World War II help the economy?

Of course not.  This is pretty easy to understand when a little bit of time is taken to look at it.  Unfortunately, this Keynesian nonsense that war is somehow good for the economy has so permeated the culture that most people likely believe it.  I would ask people to just think a little bit, if all those factories that were producing planes and bombs were instead used to make consumer good like cars and washer machines, Americans would have a much higher standard of living.  Instead, valuable resources were put into the “war industry” and that capital was completely lost.  The Keynesians would counter and say that these resources were idol and were not being used.  This may be true to a certain extent but this is because FDR‘s New Deal policies did not let the market clear because wage and price controls that he put in place.  Any economy will always move towards equilibrium if the state keeps it hands off.  Moreover, how could the economy being doing well if people did not have access to the goods that they needed.  After all, throughout the war, there were massive shortages in all kinds of consumer good from meat to rubber.  If people could not buy the goods they wanted, how was the economy doing well?  I might have a million bucks but if I have nothing to buy I would be pretty poor.  A large problem with this “war time boom” idea is the way that the government calculates GDP.  GDP includes both government and private sector spending but government spending does not in anyway represent an increase in economic value and is usually just the opposite as discussed before.  When a government produces bombs, it does not increase a population’s standard of living but instead decreases it because valuable resources are diverted into a sector that in no way adding value to the lives of the people.  Anyway, here is Robert Higgs discussing the topic.



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