Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Technology and Economic Performance in the American Economy

Contents:

Author Info

  • Gordon, Robert J

Abstract

This Paper examines the sources of the US macroeconomic miracle of 1995-2000 and attempts to distinguish among permanent sources of American leadership in high-technology industries, as contrasted with the particular post-1995 episode of technological acceleration, and with other independent sources of the economic miracle unrelated to technology. The core of the American achievement was the maintenance of low inflation in the presence of a decline in the unemployment rate to the lowest level reached in three decades. The post-1995 technological acceleration, particularly in information technology (IT) and accompanying revival of productivity growth, directly contributed both to faster output growth and to holding down the inflation rate, but inflation was also held down by a substantial decline in real non-oil import prices, by low energy prices through early 1999, and by a temporary cessation in 1996-98 of inflation in real medical care prices. In turn low inflation allowed the Fed to maintain an easy monetary policy that fueled rapid growth in real demand, profits, and stock prices, which fed back into growth of consumption in excess of growth in income. The technological acceleration was made possible in part by permanent sources of American advantage over Europe and Japan, most notably the mixed system of government- and privately-funded research universities, the large role of US government agencies providing research funding based on peer review, the strong tradition of patent and securities regulation, the leading worldwide position of US business schools and US-owned investment banking, accounting, and management-consulting firms, and the particular importance of the capital market for high-tech financing led by a uniquely dynamic venture capital industry. While these advantages help to explain why the IT boom happened in the United States, they did not prevent the US from experiencing a dismal period of slow productivity growth between 1972 and 1995 nor from falling behind in numerous industries outside the IT sector. The 1995-2000 productivity growth revival was fragile, both because a portion rested on unsustainably rapid output growth in 1999-2000, and because much of the rest was the result of a doubling in the growth rate of computer investment after 1995 that could not continue forever. The web could only be invented once, Y2K artificially compressed the computer replacement cycle, and some IT purchases were made by dot-coms that by early 2001 were bankrupt. As an invention, the web provided abundant consumer surplus but no recipe for most dot-coms to make a profit from providing free services. High-tech also included a boom in biotech and medical technology, which also provided consumer surplus without necessarily creating higher productivity, at least within the feasible scope of output measurement.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.cepr.org/pubs/dps/DP3213.asp
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3213.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Feb 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3213

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: new economy; productivity; technological leadership;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Wayne Vroman, 1977. "Worker Upgrading and the Business Cycle," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 8(1), pages 229-252.
  2. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 2664307, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
  4. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Robert J. Gordon, 1996. "The Economics of New Goods," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bres96-1.
  5. Robert J. Gordon, 1977. "Can the Inflation of the 1970s be Explained?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 8(1), pages 253-279.
  6. Robert J. Gordon, 1998. "Foundations of the Goldilocks Economy: Supply Shocks and the Time-Varying NAIRU," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 297-346.
  7. Robert J. Gordon, 1997. "The Time-Varying NAIRU and Its Implications for Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 11-32, Winter.
  8. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," NBER Working Papers 7833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Franco Malerba, 1997. "Industrial Dynamics and the Evolution of Firms' and Nations' Competitive Capabilities in the World Computer Industry," Working Papers 97030, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  10. Robert J. Gordon, 1981. "Inflation, Flexible Exchange Rates, and the Natural Rate of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 0708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3213. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.