chapter
Kondratiev cycles
Pages 2

The successive energy intensity peaks in Figure 15.2 tie in roughly with the forty to fifty-year cycles of economic peaks and troughs in the world economy first identified by the Soviet economist Kondratiev in the 1920s. Subsequent theorists in the West took up his ideas (especially after the economic crash, on cue, in the 1930s) and some have suggested that the key factor in creating the periodic booms was the development and adoption of a range of key new technologies (Schumpeter 1939). Theories as to precisely how this occurs vary, but, in some versions of what is sometimes known as ‘long wave’ theory, the technological innovation process is supposed to be stimulated during economic depressions, when companies who had previously simply been able to expand markets for their existing products, find that profits are falling. They therefore invest in new products and a boom results, after which markets begin to saturate once again, so that the cycle repeats (Mensch 1979).