The Rise and Fall of American Growth
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How America's high standard of living came to be and why future growth is under threat In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Robert Gordon contends that the nation's productivity growth will be further held back by the headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government, and that we must find new solutions. A critical voice in the most pressing debates of our time, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.
In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Gordon contends that the nation's productivity growth will be further held back by the headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government, and that we must find new solutions. A critical voice in the most pressing debates of our time, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.
The present is a contest between the bright and dark sides of discovery. To avoid being torn apart by its stresses, we need to recognize the fact—and gain courage and wisdom from the past. Age of Discovery shows how. Now is the best moment in history to be alive, but we have never felt more anxious or divided. Human health, aggregate wealth and education are flourishing. Scientific discovery is racing forward. But the same global flows of trade, capital, people and ideas that make gains possible for some people deliver big losses to others—and make us all more vulnerable to one another. Business and science are working giant revolutions upon our societies, but our politics and institutions evolve at a much slower pace. That’s why, in a moment when everyone ought to be celebrating giant global gains, many of us are righteously angry at being left out and stressed about where we’re headed. To make sense of present shocks, we need to step back and recognize: we’ve been here before. The first Renaissance, the time of Columbus, Copernicus, Gutenberg and others, likewise redrew all maps of the world, democratized communication and sparked a flourishing of creative achievement. But their world also grappled with the same dark side of rapid change: social division, political extremism, insecurity, pandemics and other unintended consequences of discovery. Now is the second Renaissance. We can still flourish—if we learn from the first.
Most economists would agree that a thriving economy is synonymous with GDP growth. The more we produce and consume, the higher our living standard and the more resources available to the public. This means that our current era, in which growth has slowed substantially from its postwar highs, has raised alarm bells. But should it? Is growth actually the best way to measure economic success—and does our slowdown indicate economic problems? The counterintuitive answer Dietrich Vollrath offers is: No. Looking at the same facts as other economists, he offers a radically different interpretation. Rather than a sign of economic failure, he argues, our current slowdown is, in fact, a sign of our widespread economic success. Our powerful economy has already supplied so much of the necessary stuff of modern life, brought us so much comfort, security, and luxury, that we have turned to new forms of production and consumption that increase our well-being but do not contribute to growth in GDP. In Fully Grown, Vollrath offers a powerful case to support that argument. He explores a number of important trends in the US economy: including a decrease in the number of workers relative to the population, a shift from a goods-driven economy to a services-driven one, and a decline in geographic mobility. In each case, he shows how their economic effects could be read as a sign of success, even though they each act as a brake of GDP growth. He also reveals what growth measurement can and cannot tell us—which factors are rightly correlated with economic success, which tell us nothing about significant changes in the economy, and which fall into a conspicuously gray area. Sure to be controversial, Fully Grown will reset the terms of economic debate and help us think anew about what a successful economy looks like.
A leading political economist advances a new theory to explain the postwar shifts in the relative economic fortunes and positions of various nations and regions
Paul Kennedy's classic naval history, now updated with a new introduction by the author This acclaimed book traces Britain's rise and fall as a sea power from the Tudors to the present day. Challenging the traditional view that the British are natural 'sons of the waves', he suggests instead that the country's fortunes as a significant maritime force have always been bound up with its economic growth. In doing so, he contributes significantly to the centuries-long debate between 'continental' and 'maritime' schools of strategy over Britain's policy in times of war. Setting British naval history within a framework of national, international, economic, political and strategic considerations, he offers a fresh approach to one of the central questions in British history. A new introduction extends his analysis into the twenty-first century and reflects on current American and Chinese ambitions for naval mastery. 'Excellent and stimulating' Correlli Barnett 'The first scholar to have set the sweep of British Naval history against the background of economic history' Michael Howard, Sunday Times 'By far the best study that has ever been done on the subject ... a sparkling and apt quotation on practically every page' Daniel A. Baugh, International History Review 'The best single-volume study of Britain and her naval past now available to us' Jon Sumida, Journal of Modern History
The Rise and Decline of the American "Empire" explores the rapidly growing literature on the rise and fall of the United States. The author argues that after 1945 the US has definitely been the most dominant power the world has seen and that it has successfully met the challenges from, first, the Soviet Union and, then, Japan, and the European Union. Now, however, the United States is in decline: its vast military power is being challenged by asymmetrical wars, its economic growth is slow and its debt is rising rapidly, the political system is proving unable to meet these challenges in a satisfactory way. While the US is still likely to remain the world's leading power for the foreseeable future, it is being challenged by China, particularly economically, and also by several other regional Great Powers. The book also addresses the more theoretical question of what recent superpowers have been able to achieve and what they have not achieved. How could the United States be both the dominant power and at the same time suffer significant defeats? And how could the Soviet Union suddenly collapse? No power has ever been omnipotent. It cannot control events all around the world. The Soviet Union suffered from imperial overstretch; the traditional colonial empires suffered from a growing lack of legitimacy at the international, national, and local levels. The United States has been able to maintain its alliance system, but only in a much reformed way. If a small power simply insists on pursuing its own very different policies, there is normally little the United States and other Great Powers will do. Military intervention is an option that can be used only rarely and most often with strikingly limited results.
In Comeback, Pulitzer Prize-winners Paul Ingrassia and Joseph B. White take us to the boardrooms, the executive offices, and the shop floors of the auto business to reconstruct, in riveting detail, how America's premier industry stumbled, fell, and picked itself up again. The story begins in 1982, when Honda started building cars in Marysville, Ohio, and the entire U.S. car industry seemed to be on the brink of extinction. It ends just over a decade later, with a remarkable turn of the tables, as Japan's car industry falters and America's Big Three emerge as formidable global competitors. Comeback is a story propelled by larger-than-life characters -- Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, Don Petersen, Roger Smith, among many others -- and their greed, pride, and sheer refusal to face facts. But it is also a story full of dedicated, unlikely heroes who struggled to make the Big Three change before it was too late.
"Award-winning business journalist Rana Foroohar shows how the shortsighted and misguided financial practices that nearly toppled the global economy in 2008 have come to infiltrate all corners of American business--putting us on a dangerous collision course to another economic meltdown that will make 2008 look like a mere blip in the business cycle"--
The untold story of how America once created the most successful economy the world has ever seen and how we can do it again. The American economy glitters on the outside, but the reality is quite different. Job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans in the most prosperous areas--and destroying middle class jobs elsewhere. To turn this tide, we must look to a brilliant and all-but-forgotten American success story and embark on a plan that will create the industries of the future--and the jobs that go with them. Beginning in 1940, massive public investment generated breakthroughs in science and technology that first helped win WWII and then created the most successful economy the world has ever seen. Private enterprise then built on these breakthroughs to create new industries--such as radar, jet engines, digital computers, mobile telecommunications, life-saving medicines, and the internet-- that became the catalyst for broader economic growth that generated millions of good jobs. We lifted almost all boats, not just the yachts. Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second. It's a visionary, pragmatic, sure-to-be controversial plan that will lead to job growth and a new American economy in places now left behind.
The author of The Pity of War argues that America is both economically and militarily the most powerful empire in history and will feel negative consequences globally and domestically as a result of imposing unrealistic timescales on interventions abroad. Reprint.
About national and international power in the "modern" or Post Renaissance period. Explains how the various powers have risen and fallen over the 5 centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" in W. Europe.
He contrasts the commonly-held perception that the pace of technology is accelerating with the historical record. He highlights the people and the organizations which are responsible for America's technological largesse. The book "follows the money" to uncover the underlying trends. The beginning of a decline in technology development is detected using indirect indicators for clues. Impacts on the formation of companies, employment and productivity provide sobering reasons to enlighten others and demand a change in course. After considering the possibilities, the book proposes several constructive actions which avoid the proverbial tendency to "throw more money at the problem." The goal of the book is to provoke discussion and promote action where appropriate. Americans' standard of living is at stake. Tech-savvy readers will want to understand this issue so as to influence others. Long-range thinkers will want to factor these considerations into their prognostications. The titans of the technology-based companies can develop new and improved strategies based on the findings of this book. And, our elected officials may want to act before a catastrophic disaster confronts the nation. This book will strike a chord with everyone who is interested in America's future economic health. Specific audience groups include scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, employees in technology based companies, government and corporate policymakers deciding the future of research and development (R&D) programs, government workers involved in the execution of government R&D programs and those thinking about a career in R&D. It is complementary to such works as Politics and Economics in America: The Way We Came to Be, by Richard E. Carmichael (Krieger Publishing Company, 1998), which explores political and economic history in order to explain the emergence of the United States' world economic dominance. Carmichael's book makes recommendations on how government could assist America's businesses in maintaining our economic leadership, but it does not address any aspects of technology development and associated issues. Closing the Innovation Gap by Judy Estrin (McGraw Hill, 2009), provides business leaders with concepts for leading their organizations so as to close the innovation gap with competitors. It focuses on the innovation environment within the organization, whereas Dr. Gref addresses the complete technology development cycle, its financing, America's rise to global dominance, and the specter of a national decline.
The discovery of the Americas around 1500 AD was an extraordinary watershed in human experience. It gave rise to the modern period of human ecology, a phenomenon global in scope that set in motion profound changes in almost every society on earth. This new period, which saw the depletion of the lands of the New World, proved tragic for some, triumphant for others, and powerfully affecting for all. In this work, acclaimed environmental historian Donald Worster takes a global view in his examination of the ways in which complex issues of worldwide abundance and scarcity have shaped American society and behavior over three centuries. Looking at the limits nature imposes on human ambitions, he questions whether America today is in the midst of a shift from a culture of abundance to a culture of limits-and whether American consumption has become reliant on the global South. Worster engages with key political, economic, and environmental thinkers while presenting his own interpretation of the role of capitalism and government in issues of wealth, abundance, and scarcity. Acknowledging the earth's agency throughout human history, Shrinking the Earth offers a compelling explanation of how we have arrived where we are and a hopeful way forward on a planet that is no longer as large as it once was.
By examining important aspects of science fiction in the twentieth century, this book explains how the genre evolved to its current state. Close critical attention is given to topics including the art that has accompanied science fiction, the subgenres of space opera and hard science fiction, the rise of SF anthologies, and the burgeoning impact of the marketplace on authors. Included are in-depth studies of key texts that contributed to science fiction's growth, including Philip Francis Nowlan's first Buck Rogers story, the first published stories of A. E. van Vogt, and the early juveniles of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.
Economics drives the modern world and shapes our lives, but few of us feel we have time to engage with the breadth of ideas in the subject. 50 Economics Classics is the smart person's guide to two centuries of discussion of finance, capitalism and the global economy. From Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations to Thomas Piketty's bestseller Capital in the Twenty-First Century, here are the great reads, seminal ideas and famous texts clarified and illuminated for all.
As World War II ended, few Americans in government or universities knew much about the Soviet Union. As David Engerman shows in this book, a network of scholars, soldiers, spies, and philanthropists created an enterprise known as Soviet Studies to fill in this dangerous gap in American knowledge. This group brought together some of the nation's best minds from the left, right, and center, colorful and controversial individuals ranging from George Kennan to Margaret Mead to Zbigniew Brzezinski, not to mention historians Sheila Fitzpatrick and Richard Pipes. Together they created the knowledge that helped fight the Cold War and define Cold War thought. Soviet Studies became a vibrant intellectual enterprise, studying not just the Soviet threat, but Soviet society and culture at a time when many said that these were contradictions in terms, as well as Russian history and literature. And this broad network, Engerman argues, forever changed the relationship between the government and academe, connecting the Pentagon with the ivory tower in ways that still matter today.
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In less than a decade, the Internet went from being a series of loosely connected networks used by universities and the military to the powerful commercial engine it is today. This book describes how many of the key innovations that made this possible came from entrepreneurs and iconoclasts who were outside the mainstream—and how the commercialization of the Internet was by no means a foregone conclusion at its outset. Shane Greenstein traces the evolution of the Internet from government ownership to privatization to the commercial Internet we know today. This is a story of innovation from the edges. Greenstein shows how mainstream service providers that had traditionally been leaders in the old-market economy became threatened by innovations from industry outsiders who saw economic opportunities where others didn't—and how these mainstream firms had no choice but to innovate themselves. New models were tried: some succeeded, some failed. Commercial markets turned innovations into valuable products and services as the Internet evolved in those markets. New business processes had to be created from scratch as a network originally intended for research and military defense had to deal with network interconnectivity, the needs of commercial users, and a host of challenges with implementing innovative new services. How the Internet Became Commercial demonstrates how, without any central authority, a unique and vibrant interplay between government and private industry transformed the Internet.
Today, the Bay Area is home to the most successful knowledge economy in America, while Los Angeles has fallen progressively further behind its neighbor to the north and a number of other American metropolises. Yet, in 1970, experts would have predicted that L.A. would outpace San Francisco in population, income, economic power, and influence. The usual factors used to explain urban growth—luck, immigration, local economic policies, and the pool of skilled labor—do not account for the contrast between the two cities and their fates. So what does? The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies challenges many of the conventional notions about economic development and sheds new light on its workings. The authors argue that it is essential to understand the interactions of three major components—economic specialization, human capital formation, and institutional factors—to determine how well a regional economy will cope with new opportunities and challenges. Drawing on economics, sociology, political science, and geography, they argue that the economic development of metropolitan regions hinges on previously underexplored capacities for organizational change in firms, networks of people, and networks of leaders. By studying San Francisco and Los Angeles in unprecedented levels of depth, this book extracts lessons for the field of economic development studies and urban regions around the world.