Tyler Cowen, a noted economist and blogger out of George Mason University, has outlined America’s next 20 years in a fascinating new book called Average Is Over. It reflects how Cowen thinks—each page is effortlessly wide-ranging, casually compelling, and almost ruthlessly objective. He looks beyond today’s “new normal” to an increasingly meritocratic world profoundly influenced by technological change and growing inequality.
According to The Economist’s Schumpeter columnist, “America’s engines of growth are misfiring badly.” A new book from two key executives at the Financial Services Forum showcases the real worries afflicting America’s startups. Three challenges particularly bedevil them:
- Human capital shortages
- Complexity and cost of government
- Access to financial capital
The head of one of America’s leading VC firms—taking a cue from Kanye West, of all people—offers this nugget of advice to startups: It’s okay to be profitable.
Richard Florida mapped the geography of American invention.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes in The Federalist on “what the internet teaches us about healthcare”:
In a recent weekly energy report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that the United States will overtake Russia as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas this year. This stunning change has turned the U.S. energy supply paradigm on its head in just a few years, from one of scarcity and vulnerability to greater energy security and opportunity.
When Thomas Edison pioneered electric lighting and power systems he couldn’t have envisioned the computers, cell phones, and life-changing advances which his innovations have enabled. In a similar fashion, American and global energy abundance has the potential to alter the economic and security landscape in profound and unforeseeable directions.
American shale oil and natural gas production is rewriting the economic and energy maps. Its energy supply expectations have been transformed over the past five years from 2008. The specter of rising imports is yielding to the reality that the United States can export natural gas, refined products, and eventually crude oil. As evidence of this change, the United States became a net refined product exporter in 2011, the first time since 1949. EIA projects that it will be a net natural gas exporter by 2020.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reads the Internet so that you don’t have to, sharing a short list of curated blog posts for your Friday reading.
Mark Perry finds that “global trade volume and world industrial production both reached new record highs in July.”
How workshop facilities enabled the Maker Movement of amateur manufacturers.
The Economist profiles a recent OECD report showing the (a) the benefit of highly-skilled immigrants to receiving countries and (b) the growing wage inequalities in the countries from which the skilled emigrated.
The Wall Street Journal explains how the United States became the world’s No. 1 energy producer.
Fifty-six years ago today, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I into low-earth orbit, making it the first man-made Earth satellite. America, meanwhile, was launched into a state of intense self-reflection regarding its own technological prowess, or lack thereof. The American Vanguard TV3’s fiery explosion two seconds after liftoff on December 6, 1957 exacerbated the sense of alarm.
It was in this context that economist Richard Nelson wrote what is still one of the best expositions on the role of basic research in the economy. The 1959 paper is aptly titled, “The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research,” and begins: “Recently, orbiting evidence of un-American technological competition has focused attention on the role played by scientific research in our political economy.”
Basic scientific research can be distinguished from applied R&D by its characteristic lack of direct application.
The value of applied R&D is well documented, with a recent Econometrica paper by Nicholas Bloom, Mark Shankerman, and John Van Reenen suggesting that R&D as a whole is two to four times as valuable to society as it is to the entity that conducted the research.