The Hollywood blockbuster Back to the Future was released 30 years ago, in 1985, and is garnering some headlines lately as its sequel, Back to the Future II, was mainly set in 2015. The original film, set in 1985, sees the main characters use a time traveling DeLorean — that’s a car for those of you born after 1975 — to travel back to 1955, and at the end of the film, briefly, to this year, 2015. The quick visit to 2015 at the end of the first film set the stage for the sequel, Back to the Future II, which was released in 1989. Although some of what was depicted as 2015 in Back to the Future II—hoverboards, flying cars, sneakers with automatic shoelaces, fax machines everywhere, time travel, and the Cubs winning the World Series — has yet to happen (sorry Cubs fans), some things about life in 2015 did come true. Flat-panel TVs, hands-free gaming, cameras everywhere, video chatting, and yes, even drones, all appear as staples of everyday life in 2015.
Back to the Future II
doesn’t tell us much about the economy in 2015, however, although most of the economic activity in the film seems to revolve around selling 1980s nostalgia and casino gambling. But how might 2015’s economy compare with 1985’s, which is often thought of as part of the roaring 1980s and, in some respects, a golden age for the U.S. economy?