The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Stiltzkin
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Stiltzkin » 18 Sep 2016 22:51

Super easy victory indeed.
Not to mention the failed main attack, Operation Mars/Rzhev, Velikiye Luki, and the failed Kharkov offensive in the Spring (with 588,000 casualties) that left a wide gap, resulting in more build up time and desperate recruitment, all part of this campaign.

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Cult Icon » 18 Sep 2016 23:53

In the Red Army, manpower and tanks were their "ammunition" supply. It was part of different offensive and economic concept.

Glantz would probably not agree with your figures on RKKA losses. The Axis- Allied losses were actually closer in his 'Stalingrad Trilogy'.

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 00:02

Guaporense wrote:
John T wrote:
Guaporense wrote:
Guaporense wrote: Also, the most advanced an economy is, the bigger is the fall in productivity due to mobilization for war. The reason is that a blacksmith can shift from plowshares to swords easily while a modern economy that employs lawyers and burger flippers will have a hard time shifting the lawyers and burger flipper's employment to work in bomb and tank factories without losing a lot of productivity in the process.
If not the bigger economy have a much more flexible structure.
Not really. It's the inverse as I have explained before.

More advanced economies, however, can cut civilian consumption more and mobilize a higher fraction of their GDP into warfare. The reason is that higher incomes allow for people to cut down consumption more. Also, more advanced economies are more industrialized so that a higher fraction of their economy is easily mobilized for the armed forces and munitions production.
Aha, I am plain Wrong, " the bigger economy have a much more flexible structure"
While your "Also, more advanced economies are more industrialized so that a higher fraction of their economy is easily mobilized for the armed forces and munitions production." Are right

So the difference is about you are right and I'm wrong or how do you interpret the difference between "bigger economies" (like US compared to Germany in this case) to "more advanced economies"

I can't see the big difference in the two statements except that you claim you are right?
There is an enormous difference.

A more advanced economy can be a smaller economy (for example, Belgium was much more advanced than Japan but still smaller).

The US was not more "advanced", it was bigger GDP wise because it was a bigger country but both countries were at the time near the so called "technological frontier" (as France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, etc). For a modern example, India is a much bigger economy than the Netherlands (right now) but the Netherlands is a far more advanced country.
...
Summing up, when comparing warmaking potential one might take into account 2 distinct effects caused by high levels of development:

(1) Higher levels of development implies that a much higher fraction of the economy is available for mobilization (since the size of the subsistence agricultural sector is small).

(2) Higher levels of development implies also that economies are very specialized which means that the losses in productivity caused by mobilization tend to be higher due to sectoral shifts in demand and the high level of specialization of capital equipment (you can use the same hammer to make plows or swords but you cannot convert a school-building into a tank factory).

For example, in WW1, the first total war, the levels of mobilization reached by France and Germany couldn't be possibly equaled by earlier pre-industrial societies but the collapses in GDP were also the highest ever registered in any society in human history: a 30-35% drop in GDP in France and 25-30% in Germany. Pre-modern societies would actually lose a high fraction of their population to starvation if their GDP dropped by such amounts, it was because they were relatively rich and industrialized that they could endure mobilization and the loss of economic output that came from it.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 00:04

Cult Icon wrote:In the Red Army, manpower and tanks were their "ammunition" supply. It was part of different offensive and economic concept.
But Soviet losses in other battles were much lower (see Khalkhyn Gol).
Glantz would probably not agree with your figures on RKKA losses. The Axis- Allied losses were actually closer in his 'Stalingrad Trilogy'.
I think he does because they are from Krivosheev, he wouldn't agree on my German losses (since he dislikes German sources).
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Sep 2016 00:27

Glantz's Stalingrad Trilogy is filled with the use German primary and secondary sources. Its seems to me that you don't own it.

Glantz and House did an analysis on Stalingrad losses. I wrote this down in my notes. IIRC their conclusion was that Axis human losses were 1 M vs Soviet of 1.7 M (related to the entire campaign, from a strategic perspective).

The losses in the Uranus operation were relatively close and not staggeringly different.

The Soviets emphasize bayonets and tank numbers because their combat system is fast-turnover. Not so slow turnover and reliant on human capital, lots of service/support assets, and organizational development like the German divisions of 1941/1942.

I think the argument can be made that the Germans more and more resembled the Red Army of 1942 (which was effectively, an improvised army for the most part) in late 1944-spring 1945.

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Rob Stuart » 19 Sep 2016 01:45

Guaporense wrote:
Rob Stuart wrote:It was indeed as easy as it could have been.
Indeed, Soviet casualties were so light in that operation Uranus: 154,885 KIA and 330,892 WIA in 2.5 months. Super easy victory indeed. (sarcasm)
Do you have even one clue as to what the concept of "context" is? Did I not clearly say that I was not referring to the entire 1942 campaign or the entire Stalingrad battle? Did I not refer specifically to the period 19-22 November? The Russians cut through the Romanians like a hot knife through butter and the casualties you refer to were not inflicted by the Romanians or during the race to Kalach. If the Germans had recognized that it was in their interest to produce enough tanks to be able to supply a goodly number to their allies, so that the two Romanian armies could have had a division of Panzer IVs apiece, then maybe it would have taken the Russians longer to get to Kalach, in which case the Germans would have had a bit more time to react before the noose closed behind 6th Army. The Americans supplied Shermans to the British, Canadians, Free French and Poles because it would help their alliance win. The Germans either failed to recognize that they needed to produce sufficient materiel to equip their allies as well as themselves, or they lacked the resources and organizational skills to do so.

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Michael Kenny » 19 Sep 2016 01:57

Perhaps the German should have send a Division of Locomotives. After all 'everyone' knows that Locomotives are far more important than tanks...............
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 02:17

Cult Icon wrote:Glantz's Stalingrad Trilogy is filled with the use German primary and secondary sources. Its seems to me that you don't own it.
Yes I don't. In When Titans Clashed he uses Soviet estimates for German losses.
Glantz and House did an analysis on Stalingrad losses. I wrote this down in my notes. IIRC their conclusion was that Axis human losses were 1 M vs Soviet of 1.7 M (related to the entire campaign, from a strategic perspective).
I see. Hungarian, Italian and Romanian losses must have been heavy.
The losses in the Uranus operation were relatively close and not staggeringly different.

The Soviets emphasize bayonets and tank numbers because their combat system is fast-turnover. Not so slow turnover and reliant on human capital, lots of service/support assets, and organizational development like the German divisions of 1941/1942.

I think the argument can be made that the Germans more and more resembled the Red Army of 1942 (which was effectively, an improvised army for the most part) in late 1944-spring 1945.
I wouldn't go as far as that because in the 4th quarter of 1944 the German army was still exchanging soldiers 4-1 with the Red Army while being outnumbered 3-1. While Dupuy's data on battles in the Western front in October, November 1944 still suggest a large German superiority in casualty infliction effectiveness relative to the Americans.

So they were still superior on a per capita basis versus the Allies, however their degree of superiority was certainly eroded over the millions of casualties suffered in between 1941 and 1944.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 02:33

Rob Stuart wrote:
Guaporense wrote:
Rob Stuart wrote:It was indeed as easy as it could have been.
Indeed, Soviet casualties were so light in that operation Uranus: 154,885 KIA and 330,892 WIA in 2.5 months. Super easy victory indeed. (sarcasm)
Do you have even one clue as to what the concept of "context" is? Did I not clearly say that I was not referring to the entire 1942 campaign or the entire Stalingrad battle? Did I not refer specifically to the period 19-22 November? The Russians cut through the Romanians like a hot knife through butter and the casualties you refer to were not inflicted by the Romanians or during the race to Kalach.
I don't have data on casualties there specifically but it's you who hold the burden of proof of showing them so that you could substantiate your claim they cut through then like hot knife on butter.
If the Germans had recognized that it was in their interest to produce enough tanks to be able to supply a goodly number to their allies, so that the two Romanian armies could have had a division of Panzer IVs apiece, then maybe it would have taken the Russians longer to get to Kalach, in which case the Germans would have had a bit more time to react before the noose closed behind 6th Army. The Americans supplied Shermans to the British, Canadians, Free French and Poles because it would help their alliance win. The Germans either failed to recognize that they needed to produce sufficient materiel to equip their allies as well as themselves, or they lacked the resources and organizational skills to do so.
Resources were obviously not a binding constraint for production of tanks since German tank production was several times smaller than Soviet even though German resources were vastly superior (such as the GDP of German occupied parts of Europe was ca. 350% of the USSR's in 1942-43, while their supply of energy or machine tool stock was several times the USSR's in 1942-1943). Therefore it was their decision to produce fewer tanks, you claim their supply was insufficient, however, let's have a look at their tank stocks.

German tank strength, beginning of the year:

---------- strength ----- production of tanks (not counting SP guns)
1941 ---- 5,262 -------- 3,256
1942 ---- 4,896 -------- 4,278
1943 ---- 5,648 -------- 5,966
1944 ---- 5,266 -------- 9,161
1945 ---- 6,284 -------- 1,098

German tank strength was held constant at about 5,000 - 6,000 tanks which was the number required to equip their 30 armored divisions. So the idea they lacked tanks is nonsense. Same can be applied to other types of equipment like artillery pieces, rifles, machine guns, mortars (whose stocks were also constant throughout the war, roughly at the precise level required to equip the number of battalions they had in the army) or aircraft (in the last case they lacked fuel to use more aircraft than the 7,000-8,000 aircraft the Luftwaffe operated).

Now, the Romanians were a poorly trained army from a backward country (which was even more backward than the Soviet Union). So even if the Germans gave the Romanians fancy equipment like tanks, they wouldn't know how to use them properly: the high fighting power of the Wehrmacht was the product of training and high levels of human capital besides adequate equipment.

Also, tanks are an offensive weapon, not a defensive weapon. If the Romanians needed any equipment in November 1942 that would be anti tank guns and artillery pieces, not tanks.

Overall I think that Germany's main production mistake in WW2 was to not ramp up production of artillery ammunition sooner (their per capita levels of ammunition consumption in 1942 were half of 1944's levels). That was caused by their victory at the Battle of France (after that battle Hitler though the war was already won).

Back to Track

Anyway, all of this is pretty much irrelevant for the discussion here since there was no discrepancy between the productivity growth performance of Germany and the US in WW2 (in both cases productivity per worker appears to have increased by about 30% in the first 4 years after entering WW2, for each country respectively).

The discrepancy is between productivity growth in WW1 and WW2: In WW1, labor productivity in German industry declined by 22%, in WW2, labor productivity in German industry increased by 23%. This is weird and I think it's because in WW2, prices were frozen so nominal productivity increased in both wars but in WW1 the change was in the price index while in WW2 the change was in the GDP index.
Last edited by Guaporense on 19 Sep 2016 03:09, edited 3 times in total.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Sep 2016 02:40

The Stalingrad Trilogy was released many years after When Titan's Clashed.

The German divisions of the fall of 1944 had moved towards the Soviet ones in defense and troop quality. The main difference is that the germans did not launch massed frontal attacks (which led to high losses but was the currency for operational victories) as per their infantry doctrine. They relied on passive defense with small force counterattacks. This restricted their losses. But it the defense, they were unmanueverable and static like the soviet rifle divisions of 1942.

Some German formations in the battle of the bulge did soviet style attacks (eg. 12.SS Panzer, Para, VG) and were cut down in droves with little American losses. Others fought in a more coordinated manner (eg. 2.Pz) and maneuver action with opposite results.

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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 02:57

Well, according to Zetterling (2000) German losses when they attacked the Americans in December 1944 were actually lower than American losses (all forces on average), even though they were in the offensive. Although the discrepancy in losses was much smaller than against the French in 1940.

Were German training standards for both officers and conscripts lowered in 1944-45 versus 1940-41?
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Sep 2016 03:05

In case anyone needs it.
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by Richard Anderson » 19 Sep 2016 07:17

Guaporense wrote:German tank strength, beginning of the year:

---------- strength ----- production of tanks (not counting SP guns)
1941 ---- 5,262 -------- 3,256
1942 ---- 4,896 -------- 4,278
1943 ---- 5,648 -------- 5,966
1944 ---- 5,266 -------- 9,161
1945 ---- 6,284 -------- 1,098

German tank strength was held constant at about 5,000 - 6,000 tanks which was the number required to equip their 30 armored divisions.
I am never quite sure if your posts are the result of deliberate trolling, lunacy, or simple naivete.

Your "strength" figures are for total Wehrmacht on hand. You are playing a variation on your silly game of "prisoners of war don't count as casualties because they don't bleed".

As of 14 April 1943, the Feldheer had 1,425 operational tanks and 978 in repair for a total of 2,403 on hand. Another 481 were in route. In terms of operational weapons it was not what was "required", it was about one-quarter of what was required.

As of June 1944, the Feldheer had 3,045 operational tanks and 659 in repair with 1,098 in route. In terms of operational weapons it was not what was "required", it was about 42% of what was required.

Stop posting nonsense. Its tiresome.
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by South » 19 Sep 2016 09:34

Good morning Stiltzkin,

The US indeed had much mobilization prior to Pearl Harbor - and Poland.

It was disguised.

FDR's "alphabet soup" Federal agencies were gearing up to go to war.

The Civilian Conservation Corps ("CCC") was a basic training program coupled with building barracks.

A famous example is Pan Am's China Clipper service to China and New Zealand. It was a disguised mobilization program. The US Government funding was.....hidden.

US Government budgets are opaque. What the public sees is "somewhat" different.

Atomic ordnance research was also going on.

Glance at United Fruit Company budgets and transactions.......just joking.......not available. They were doing more than shipping bananas.

Prior to Watergate, the American political "scandal", the lead scandal was "Teapot Dome". Teapot Dome was a Naval Petroleum Reserve, one of several. They were also involved in the preparations for war.

Many other examples available. Each is a tile in a mosaic. The picture is as clear as white light passing through a prism.

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Bob
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Re: The American WW2 Economic Puzzle

Post by South » 19 Sep 2016 09:46

Good morning Guaporense,

Re: "...nothing special about the US's economy...";

Glance again.....presuming you have basic familiarity.......at the US Federal Reserve System's Regulation B, titled "Open Market Purchases of Bills of Exchange, Trade Acceptances, Bankers' Acceptances".

Review again your sentence - and your inherent economic philosophy allowing you to draft the sentence - that "nothing special about the US's economy".

Prior, during and after WWII - using any basic parameter dates - to say Switzerland was the "richest" country...............


Warm regards,

Bob
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