The 1970s gave us the three-day week, rising oil prices, rampant inflation and flared trousers. But there are drawbacks at any stage of life, and the 21st century has followed suit with Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan, Kevin Pietersen and the worst summer in living memory.
Forty years ago, the economy was dominated by belligerent unions chasing absurdly high pay rises. The National Union of Mineworkers went on strike in 1972 over a 47 per cent pay claim. They eventually got 21 per cent and subsequently brought down Ted Heath’s Conservative Government.
Today’s pay rises tend to be firmly in the single digit category, unless you’re a banker on a bonus or a PLC chief executive tied to a lucrative contract. Inflation is similarly trifling compared to the excesses of 1975, when it hit 25 per cent.
Interest rates have been stuck at 0.5 per cent since March 2009 and show no sign of changing at any stage in the future. By the end of the 1970s they had reached 17 per cent, with consequent dire effects on personal and corporate borrowing.
Henry Ford once said all history was bunk, but the motoring pioneer was surely joking, at least partially. A far more balanced perspective on the lessons of time was offered in Birmingham this week by Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee man Martin Weale.
Mr Weale, who was Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research for 15 years, said economic problems in the UK are hardly unique, and cites the runaway inflation and energy crises of the 1970s as an example of times past.
More recently, it is now five years since the start of the credit crunch with the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US, and nearly four years since the banking world all but imploded, RBS, HBOS, Lehman Brothers et al.
But as Mr Weale points out, much of the world has carried on regardless. He praises the fortitude of family-run businesses who forsook debt as a way of life while others buried their snouts in the borrowing trough, often with ultimately disastrous consequences.
The instant information age of today – fuelled by the Internet and its self-obsessive bloggers, Facebook army and feverishly twittering tweeters – demands immediate answers to every question. But life is not, and never has been, that simple.
The perspective of history can never be ignored, particularly where the economy is concerned.