Why Economies Grow: The Forces That Shape Prosperity and How to Get Them Working Again / Edition 1

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Overview

The forces that shape economic growth:—The size of markets. Large markets make economies of scale possible and thus encourage saving, investing, and the development of new products.—The availability of information and the literacy of the population. The spread of information gives people access to scientific and technical ideas, products, and productive farming, manufacturing, and marketing techniques.—Natural resources. These seem like primary requirements but are not: they depend on markets for their commercial value.—Surplus capital—savings—that can be used as investment.—Basic economic rights such as guarantees of property and contracts.—Entrepreneurialism, creativity, and the human drive for self-improvement.—Technology and invention. While commonly seen as primary (or even the only) requirements for growth, these are strongly dependent on other factors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
New York Times "Economic Scene" columnist Madrick sets out to debunk the "new economy" rhetoric that ignited the late-1990s stock market, and although his argument may seem belated, it's far from mundane. According to the author, technological innovations aren't just less important to economic expansion than we've been led to believe-they're not even necessary. Henry Ford's advances were much more managerial than technological, Madrick writes; therefore, improvements in marketing and distribution can prompt growth without serious technological developments. In the supply versus demand equation, Madrick tips the balance toward demand: in the last 1,000 years of economic history, desire for product has always been the motivation for expansion. Even the 19th-century invention of the commercial thresher, which vastly improved farms' productivity, was invented to feed a growing population. Much of the book chronicles the decline of American productivity from 1970 to 1995, with Madrick asserting that stagnation inspired people to invent the fiction of a "new economy," which, by the late '90s, was almost exclusively identified with high-tech enterprises. Unfortunately, Madrick, a former Business Week financial editor, here plays the role of essayist, rather than journalist, foregoing specific data for broad assertions. He calls for more progressive taxes to redistribute wealth and greater public spending on education and healthcare, but his last chapter is fatalistically titled "Why We Won't Do It," and is a critique of the laissez-faire orthodoxy that has dominated politics and economic theory since the '80s. (Nov. 1) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Economists believe that, to make an economy grow, many factors must be in place, such as sufficient capital or abundant natural resources, while most Americans believe that technological innovation is the sine qua non of prosperity. Madrick, a New York Times business columnist and cable TV pundit, devotes over three-quarters of this work to refuting the technological innovation thesis. Rather, he believes that the existence of viable markets is the most important element among a complicated mix of causes. Only in the penultimate chapter does he offer his prescription on how to make the economy grow, which is mostly a list of traditional liberal policies where "government" gives money and/or more services to people. Their spending, in turn, drives the economy. He notes, however, that he doesn't think his recommendations will be implemented; our national character prevents us from relying too heavily on government. Despite many interesting insights and a strong center section on the Industrial Revolution, a weak beginning and unconvincing end sabotage what could have been a very good book. An optional purchase. Patrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Tech. Coll., LaCrosse Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465043118
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/26/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Formerly the financial editor of BusinessWeek, Jeffrey Madrick is a monthly columnist for the New York Times "Economic Scene" and a frequent essayist for the New York Review of Books. A contributor of opinion pieces to the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he has also appeared as a guest on CNN, CNBC, NPR, and PBS's "Charlie Rose Show."

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xiii
1 Why Economies Grow 1
2 The Invention of the New Economy 13
3 The Importance of Economic Growth 31
4 The Causes of Industrial Revolution 47
5 The Drama of the American Industrial Revolution 69
6 The Productivity Slowdown of the Late Twentieth Century 87
7 Why We Grew Rapidly Again 115
8 The Challenges to Prosperity 133
9 Making America Grow: Challenges and Principles 143
10 Making America Grow: An Agenda 163
11 Why We Won't Do It 179
Notes 199
Index 233
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2002

    Technology- The Basis For Economic Growth

    "Why Economies Grow" is an extenisve account of how history shows why economies grow. The author, Jeff Madrick, gives many points and facts to essentially prove why econmies grow. He uses Global history and innovation to explain that technology or innovation causes the movement of economies. Econmies such as the European and North American markets. This movement is noted in his book from when time began all the way up to the internet bubble of the late 20th Century. The book spends an immense amount of time deconstructing the Industrial Revolutions in Europe and America. Madrick used the mass maunfacturing of Henry Ford, the steam engine and improvement of tools in the 1800s,the huge amount of innovation and invention of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and the internet. However, the book almost gets repetitive and I did not like that at all. I felt as if I was reading the same thing over and over again. By the time we arrived at the 1970s and 1980s I was well into the idea that technological advances in communication and processing had made huge impacts on the history of the economy. In early chapters he jumps from, for example, 1940 into a short blurp about the 1980s. Overall I did not like the book. This may be because of my knowledge of economic history as a whole, but it was a common sense issue that could have been done in a 100 page report instead of a 200 page book.

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