|Activity: Transformative Innovations|
|Lecture handout: Stagnation*
⭐ Required readings:
- Eichengreen, Barry, 2015, “Secular Stagnation: The Long View.” American Economic Review, 105 (5): 66-70.
- Cowen, Tyler, “Ten Ways to Live a Less Complacent Life”, LinkedIn, May 2017
- Are we running out of ideas? Freakonomics, November 2017 – the key points are to consider whether productivity is happening but isn’t being captured by GDP due to spillovers
- The End of Invention, BBC Radio 4, March 2022 (see this post for links and more discussion)
Here’s a great image showing a long-term timeline of technology (but notice the gap between smartphones and Now):
According to Max Grossman, as of 2021 half of all scientific papers that had even been published had come in the last 12 years, and yet much less than half of scientific progress had happened in that same period.
Consider the following:
Ad yet, I was saddened to learn recently that same amount of time had passed between the first human airplane flight and the first human spaceflight as between the first spaceflight and 2018 (see here).
Here’s a photo of Lady Priscilla Norman on her electric scooter, taken in 1917!
To some extent this lecture is about trying to work out what happened in the early 1970s. This website poses the same question:
Some interesting (and possibly related) facts about this period:
- Productivity and hourly compensation appear to derail:
- Also see here:
- Energy consumption flatlines in the 1970s (great news for environmentalists!)
- The average age of the US population begins to rise – this is because the US fertility rate falls below the replacement rate… and stays there (source):
- Number of beards increases dramatically in the mid 1970s (source):
6. In 1973 Barbara Jordan (Texas) and Andrew Young (Georgia) become the first southern black representatives in congress since 1901 (see DeLong 2022, p. 381).
7. EAP (forerunner to ESCP Business School) is founded in 1973:
8. Life on Mars is set in 1974
Perhaps, in future, people will look back on 2007 and say “what happened??”
9. The 1973 Chilean coup d’etat (Pinochet became President in 1974)
The way we talk about “wtf happened in 1971”, future generations will talk about “wtf happened in 2007” pic.twitter.com/iqDl4LS3G0
— Nabeel S. Qureshi (@nabeelqu) May 19, 2023
The lecture provided some pessimistic views on transformative breakthroughs. But every now and then I notice the power of steady, incremental progress. For example:
40 years of improved precision engineering and execution speed https://t.co/pDLGbeeqAN
— Roberto Alonso González Lezcano (@robertoglezcano) February 2, 2020
This website: My Ordinary Life: Improvements since the 1990s
Here’s a great video showing the progress made in car passenger safety:
|Learning Objectives: Understand the scholarly literature on the secular stagnation thesis|