Economic Growth Is Not a Race to the Moon

The problem with "competitiveness".

The metaphor of growth as a race with winners and losers - all that stuff in the speech about Sputnik moments, falling behind, winning the 21st century - is nonsense. Over the long haul, if US productivity rises, so will US living standards. Why should growth in China or India hold back US productivity? No reason at all.

Once conditioned to think "productivity" whenever a politician says "competitiveness", you look at economic policy differently. Winning begins to seem overrated. What exactly do we win, you wonder? Being number one in worldwide production of solar panels would be nice, but how would that raise economy-wide productivity? The key to improving living standards lies not in winning the race to develop showcase technologies, but in accumulating capital, diffusing knowledge and accommodating the disruption that this entails.

I have more to say on the subject in this column for the FT.

Presented by

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Business

Just In