It was the beginning of the New World the beginning of the information age.
Perhaps never had the mood of a decade reversed itself so totally. The 1980s began with the worst U.S. inflation in 60 years in the deepening dread of nuclear annihilation.
As the 1980s came to an end inflation was making a last and unsuccessful assault on an economy that had found new resources, the Berlin wall was tumbling down, and the Soviet empire was dissolving.
The Cold War was over and the West won!
Ronald Reagan reversed the direction of government policy recasting social programs and cutting taxes.
Unmatched by spending reductions, however, those cuts and deficits soaring to unheard-of highs, and the double-digit inflation of 1980 was cured only by double-digit unemployment in 1982.
The economy revived, but an outside share of the benefits seemed to flow to Wall Street. Mergers proliferated wildly, mostly, it seemed, for the enrichment of a few financial manipulators.
But unlike in the irrationally exuberant 1920s, disaster did not strike as it did in the depression that started in 1929.
Those stocks fell even faster on October 19, 1987, than the hat in 1929, they bounced back higher than ever, setting the stage for the roaring bull market of the 90s. Something fundamental had happened to the boom and bust cycle of the 20th century.
Something fundamental was happening to communism as well. Reagan’s 1982 prediction that it was headed for the ash heap of history was lost in a rising sea of angst, captured in 1983 made-for-TV movie, the Day after, that dramatize the clinical horrors of a nuclear exchange.
The United States and USSR had broken off all arms control negotiations and were arming rival sides in shooting wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Beneath the surface, though, the alignment of forces for shifting. Reagan’s big military buildup, and in particular his attempt to create a Star Wars anti-missile defense, was putting heavy pressure on the Soviet Union to keep up.
Moscow was vulnerable because the Soviet economy was decaying badly, and its leadership was nearly paralyzed.
Only in 1985, after three Kremlin funerals in three years, the leader, Mikael Gorbachev, emerge was realistic and vigorous enough to attempt rustic reforms.
In a sequence of summit meetings, Khrushchev and Reagan brought about the deescalation of the arms race with Soviet leader realized with swallowing or resources than they could afford.
By the end of 1989 the Soviet bloc it dissolved: Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Romania all installed non-Communist governments.
Even then, nobody would have guessed that another two years the Soviet union itself would shatter into 15 pieces. The world was entering a strange new era: only one superpower; no Cold War.