As far as Britain is concerned, Keynes will be right. Consumption per head today is about five times higher than it was in 1930. If the next 22 years enjoy the same rate of material progress, our “standard of life” in 2030 will be roughly eight times that of our grandparents.
But what can we say about our grandchildren? Keynes’ essay was silent on one theme that we cannot avoid. As he was writing, it was not only stock markets that were falling month by month. The prices of all commodities were also sliding, driven by over-production and falling demand. Shortages of energy and basic materials did not seem possible, even looking ahead to 2030 for one’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren after a huge multiplication of output in the intervening century. Anyone proposing that “the earth is running out of resources” would have been regarded as daft.