And so, by the late 1990s, all the pieces had come together to give the United States the strongest economy not only in the world but in its own history as well. The creative destruction of the old manufacturing-based economy had resulted in the birth of a new information-based economy that was ever-increasingly globally integrated. Because we were the first nation to begin the process of converting to the new economy, we were the first to emerge from the often painful process and to enjoy the benefits it ultimately brings.
Will the current prosperity last? That is not for a historian to say, although history certainly teaches that the business cycle cannot be repealed. But history also shows that we can survive, and triumph over, whatever the business cycle might bring our way. The twentieth century was born in an era of prosperity, progress, and optimism, but it was all nearly destroyed before the century was half over by two military conflicts that were unimaginable in scale and scope to those who greeted their new era on January 1,1901. Nor could they, on the other hand, have imagined the world in which we, their great-grandchildren, now live, or the level of prosperity and technological opulence that nearly all members of American society now enjoy as we enter the twenty-first century.
We can only hope that our great-grandchildren will be able to look back on us from similar heights, however exciting and sometimes painful the journey there may turn out to be.