Had it not been for the gathering war-clouds, the Second Five-Year Plan would no doubt have shown a considerable easing of the strain imposed by its predecessor, and the closing years of the decade would probably have witnessed a very rapid growth in general consumption, once the foundations of a heavy industry had been firmly laid, and the possibility now existed of using the products of heavy industry to increase the productive equipment of the consumption goods trades. As it turned out, the need for large defence expenditures had to be added to the needs of capital investment. Investment could not be relaxed appreciably, especially investment in a still further expansion of heavy industry, because the latter was so essentially a basis for modern armament. As a result, the two expenditures combined continued to devour a large (and towards the end of the decade an increasing) slice of the available resources. What is surprising is that in the circumstances general consumption and the standard of life should have risen during this period as much as they did.