BPEA | 1975 No. 1

Resource Needs Revisited

1975, No. 1

THE SHARP increase in raw materials prices in 1973-74 provoked strong concern over the scarcity of natural resources, particularly minerals. The last steep and general rise in raw materials prices, during the Korean War boom of 1950-51, also evoked great public concern about scarcities, about being cut off from leading sources of supply, and about governmental actions that might deal with these possibilities. After a series of hasty and somewhat panicky reports, President Harry S. Truman in January 1951 appointed the Paley Commission to study “the broader and longer range aspects of the nation’s materials problem as distinct from the immediate defense needs.” Its task was to “make an objective inquiry into all major aspects of the problem of assuring an adequate supply of production materials for our long-range needs, “and specifically to study “the long-range requirements outlook.” In June 1952, after the Korean commodity boom had subsided, the commission, under William S. Paley as chairman, published a thoughtful report, done with care, influenced but not dominated by the short-run scarcities of 1950 and 1951.