The Fifties have been mythologized as a period of prosperity, one health but that perception of economic stability was not as clear cut to the folks who lived in those times. In fact, recipe the immediate post-World War II period was a time of many upheavals — the rapid retooling of a wartime economy into a peacetime one, housing shortages, widespread labor unrest, and a 1953-54 recession caused in part by post-Korean War inflation.
So when the Dow Jones average creeped past its 1929 high-water mark of 386.1 in the fall of 1954, it was only natural that there would be some trepidation from folks to whom the Great Depression was still a relatively recent memory. The House the Luces Built stepped up to assuage the public’s anxieties with a December 20, 1954 LIFE Magazine editorial which outlined the differences between the 1929 and 1954 economic pictures, stressing the fundamental strengths of the economy as well as the federal contingency plans put in place to mitigate the effects of a possible downturn…
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. In 1954, a center-right publication endorsed policies overseen by a Republican president and a GOP-controlled congress which would be considered too extreme by many of today’s Democrats and an socialist abomination by contemporary Republicans.
Of course this was a time before the long-range strategic planning of Keynesian economics — in which the government acts as a counterweight to mitigate the effects of captialism’s intrinisic boom-and-bust cycles — fell out of favor and was replaced with the mad grab for speculative short money which has guided the American economy for the past thirty years, where each subsequent popped bubble is more devastating than the last and each so-called recovery benefits fewer and fewer people (much less the nation’s economic health as a whole).