The Prospects

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Two learned Britons this week looked with foreboding and gloom at America's prospects for postwar prosperity.

Harold Laski, radical economist, author and professor at the University of London, said in a transatlantic broadcast that he was "gloomy" about the future of the world "because I do not see how the free-enterprise system in America can lead to full employment."

Radical Laski said that he saw little hope of avoiding a U.S. postwar depression "because the philosophy of the American businessman today seems to be exactly what it was in 1929."

Geoffrey Crowther, editor of the famed London Economist and of Transatlantic, the new London monthly which labors to explain the U.S. to the British, said: "American listeners should realize that we are more frightened of an American depression after the war than we are of a British depression. We want to be sure that America will not allow another gigantic depression."

But while these Cassandras were busy, a number of highly encouraging economic developments took place in the U.S.

Biggest piece of good news was that the delegates from 45 nations, assembled at Bretton Woods, N.H., came to substantial agreement on the organization of an $8,800,000,000 fund to stabilize postwar international exchange, and were driving toward agreement on a world bank to make long-term reconstruction loans.

Toughest problem in setting up the fund was the allotment of quotas determining what each nation should pay in and be able to draw out (TIME, July 17). After prolonged horse-trading these quotas were settled in a spirit of amity.

Though the fund is looked on with suspicion by the U.S. banking community in general and Senator Taft in particular (see col. 1), agreement on its principles among so many nations represents an achievement of the first order. The members of the United Nations now, at least, have a definite proposal before them in trying to re-establish world trade and prosperity.

Other developments on the optimistic side:

¶ WPB took the first big step toward orderly reconversion 'from war to peace by releasing surplus magnesium and aluminum for civilian production.

¶ The Committee for Economic Development's second report on postwar prospects, published last week, turned out to be a calming assurance, at least for the early postwar years.

¶ Harvard Economics Professor Sumner Slichter boldly prophesied a postwar boom that would probably overtax U.S. productive capacity.