A bleak appreciation of the socioeconomic outlook through decade's end and beyond. A determinist at heart, Batra (economics/SMU) combines a generous dash of Eastern mysticism with classic business-cycle theory to reach the startling conclusion that a global depression is probably less than four years off. For openers, he sets great store by P.R. Sarker's law of social cycles, which holds that power shifts from class to class in predictable patterns (at present, the West is passing through an era of acquisitors from whence it will revert to another warrior age). Batra also relies on comparatively conventional analyses of decennial trends in inflation, money-supply growth, and the pervasiveness of Federal regulation. Barring fundamental fiscal reform, Batra forecasts that a worldwide economic crisis will occur around 1990, right on the 30- to 60-year schedules that have marked the post-Civil War period. Concentrations of wealth (which undermine the banking system and encourage speculation) are the primary cause of depressions, Batra argues, and he submits that the Reagan Administration's ""perverse tax policies"" will lead to a calamitous slump lasting at least through 1996. But catastrophe might be avoided if political leaders have the wit to embrace progressive utilization theory. PROUT, as it's known, features such canons as employee ownership of major corporations, linkages between minimum wage rates, and caps on inheritances. In many respects, Batra's worst-case scenario is more plausible than persuasive. To illustrate, he never really addresses the issue of what constitutes wealth in a service-based, information-oriented economy. Nor is he consistent in proposing redistributive and interventionist solutions for marketplace problems characterized as invariably recurrent. A provocative addition lo the lore of apocalyptic economics.