Feature

Addressing the great stagnation

Technological and scientific progress has stalled, and we’d better get it moving again if we want real economic growth.

Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel
Financial Times

Technological and scientific progress has stalled, said Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel, and we’d better get it moving again if we want real economic growth. Over the past 40 years, we have abandoned a “culture of risk” and “replaced it with a cautiousness far too satisfied with incremental improvements.” Scientists in the 1950s and ’60s popularized jet travel, created ever-bigger harvests with the green revolution, and launched the first communication satellites. Since then we’ve had a woeful lack of progress in energy, transportation, agriculture, and medicine. We “can now use our phones to send cute kitten photos around the world,” but our ability to protect ourselves from natural disasters or extend our life spans has barely increased. We need to come to grips with the reality of this stagnation—and fast. The vast wealth of 20th-century markets “came from technological feats that cannot be repeated.” If companies don’t start taking the kinds of risks that produce new industries and profits, we’ll never escape from the “whole post-’70s era of bubbles, busts, and wage stagnation.” 

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