The phrase "the next economy" has become common currency in the public debate about economics and public policy. The term itself has been used before--Paul Hawken's book, "The Next Economy," was published in 1983--but the term has evolved as the global situation has changed. So when we talk about a "next economy" in 2011, what do we mean, and how will it be different from what existed before?
My candidate for the next economy: one that is driven by exports, powered by low-carbon, fueled by innovation, and rich with opportunity. This is a vision where the U.S. exports more and wastes less, innovates in what matters, produces and deploys more of what it invents, and ensures the economy works for working families.
Why exports? Because the locus of world economic power is shifting. The top 30 metropolitan economic performers between 2009 and 2010 are almost exclusively located in Asia and Latin America. To grow and restructure, the U.S. must purposefully reorient its economy to serve urbanizing nations such as China, India, and Brazil.
Why low carbon? Because the clean economy will trigger a market transformation as profound as the information revolution, creating millions of jobs in the process. The energy we use, the infrastructure we build, the products we buy, the homes we live in, and the office and retail buildings we work in will be cleaner, more sustainable, and more efficient. The U.S. needs to engage fully in the low-carbon sector, expected to grow three fold to more than $2 trillion in the next decade.