The best I can see, the way that countries seem to work when times get bad is that they break up into bits. I cannot think of a single case, outside of military adventures, where countries responded to hard times by increasing size.
Consider the EU. It was formed during good times, as a means of better competing with the large blocs. Can't really say that it's formation was a response to bad, it was trying to better compete economically. The only other country that I can think of who responded by attempting to grow would be Germany's response to the privations of the great depression in the form of anschluss and drang nach osten.
Most countries break up into smaller parts. The warring states of ancient China, Europe after Charlemagne, the Soviet Union. I think that large states take more energy and strength than small states.
But I think that we will be making a decision about which way we will go soon. Unlike most struggling states, we have a well-oiled military machine with experience. This allows us a choice.