Whatever went right in the mid-noughties that went abysmally wrong in the mid-seventies and again in the early eighties?
The price of oil multiplied, just as it did then, but we have had nothing resembling an "oil shock", nor "stagflation" - double-digit inflation and a stagnant economy.
Be thankful. But without a plausible explanation, it is hard to draw comforting conclusions. We are told that oil looms less large in our lives than it did then. True, but we use gas instead and gas prices tripled between 2004 and 2006.
Last night, Charlie Bean, chief economist at the Bank of England, made a stab at providing a thought-through explanation. Yes, we do use energy more efficiently nowadays, he accepted, but it is only the start of the story. The big difference was that low inflation was embedded in the economy, partly by the way interest rates were handled over the past 15 years.
The entry of China and India into the world economy has made it an altogether more competitive place. They make it harder for western companies to pass on their cost increases to their customer - even if the price of oil might not have taken off at all without the explosion in demand from China.
Then, while China and India held down prices, Eastern Europe entered the equation to hold down pay. Even where immigrants do not compete directly with British or West European workers, there is the underlying threat that jobs move offshore if they cost too much to keep here. In America, Mexicans have much the same effect.
So this time oil did not unleash a spiral of prices and wages. Instead energy consuming companies first took a hit on their profit margins, then embarked on cost cuts - not price rises - bumping up their productivity and clamping down on pay increases.
So petrol and utility bills took a larger share of their employees' incomes, leaving them with less to spend on other things - sharpening competition in the shops and keeping prices in check.
Put that way, the wonder is we didn't get a recession. That may be because in the early stages Gordon Brown was pumping cash into the public sector as never before. In the service economy pay rises never fell short of inflation. And in manufacturing the greatly reduced workforce was for the most part quite well paid to start with.
What comes next is another matter. Not more of the same, for sure. In one direction, utility bills are set to come down with a bump, how fast and by how much we may not discover for a while. In the other, yesterday's CBI's survey shows manufacturers riding something approaching a boom and determined to push through price rises they consider overdue.
Mr Bean is not too fussed about one-off price increases, providing they don't become an annual event. Happily, there is another change from 30 years ago. The Bank has demonstrated that with interest rates a little stick works better than a big one.