THE LONG BOOM It is by now a cliche to thank the Second World War for the long boom which followed it in Continental Europe and Japan. Having lost so much, the war-ravaged could start again afresh with the latest and best in methods and equipment - so goes the explanation. Maybe - but twenty-five years is a long time for a reconstruction boom, by the end of which much of the postwar 'latest and best' had been replaced several times. The boom lasted so long (it might be added) because that was the time it took to catch up, more or less, with the United States, which at the beginning in 1948, had had a huge technological lead. t Again, reasonable enough - but what made it possible this time for those countries to chase the USA so successfully, for so long, when they had failed before and others (like Britain and Latin America) were failing now? Did something happen to them, socially, in and just after the war, which made them economically more dynamic than ever before?