Hi Don :-)
You`ve actually asked a question that I think has some fascinating and
long-reaching philosophic implications, particularly in economics. To
say the same question in a more complex way, for the purpose of
What is a primary product, and what is a derivative (support, secondary, or consequential) product?
The reason for re-phrasing is to really highlight strongly the concept
that we have products (and services) that "must" be in place for a
functioning society. Then we have products that are somewhere
after-the-fact, that don`t necessarily have to be in place.
The logic proposition: "Can we have this product without that other product, or even without people?"
Let`s say that you build cars. Many steps (support) go into making a
car, but each of those steps is necessary to producing the final car.
Each step also tends to be real---working with physical materials. Some
are intangible, such as designing the vehicle, and the engineering. But
they too are necessary.
After you`ve completed the car, you have the sales force and financing
people who make the transaction happen. Someone wants a car, someone
has a car, someone necessarily has to be in place to exchange the car
Then you have the repair people and those who build the roads for cars, along with the suppliers of fuel and parts.
But there comes a crossing point where things become less necessary.
For example, is a Car Wash a necessary product in relation to cars?
One way to ask is: "If we have no cars, can we have a car wash? If we have no car washes can we still have cars?"
Beyond the simple side of the product creation, there`s the other side
of the same issue: How necessary are cars in the overall scheme of
things. "Can people survive without a car? Can cars survive without
I think the answer to your question begins with a "level" determination
of how high up from raw survival do you want to draw the line. When you
say "recession," that`s not as bad as "depression." It`s not as bad as
"bankrupt" or "decimated by war or natural disaster."
People require food, water, shelter, and some type of clothing to
survive. Following a nuclear war, what would be the necessary
businesses and products (or government services)? That would be your
basic starting point.
Debt-collectors only would work if the Law continued to function,
contracs were enforceable, and the society functioned generally on
money. They wouldn`t work in a barter society, or without the Law and a
general "belief" in that legal structure.
Locksmiths would likely function longer, where people would try to
protect their possessions and personal safety. But in a situation of
anarchy, gunsmiths would likely do better than locksmiths.
So: how bad a recession do you want to postulate? :-D