events archive

When all the fruit is gone

7:00pm, Tuesday 17 April 2012, Please email if you would like to attend

Phil Mullan will introduce a discussion on the recent book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better by Tyler Cowen.

Cowen attributes America’s economic troubles to a combination of technological exhaustion by around the 1960s, and of Americans’ failure to see that this technological plateau had been reached and to adjust accordingly since.

Questions to consider:

  • Was there a step-change in US economic capabilities around this time?
  • What’s the relationship between technological progress and economic growth?/
  • How does the Cowen thesis fit alongside the other once popular thesis in America: the mini-long boom of the ‘Great Moderation’ in the 1990s and 2000s?
  • Cowen’s book has made a stir in the US elite; how does the acclaim for it sit alongside the latest burst of optimism about the US economy’s prospects and, especially, Washington’s bi-partisan rejection of the latest expressions of US declinism (e.g. Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address comment: “Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”)?


Not essential for the discussion but if you are interested in the technology-productivity theme historically: