Brookings Productivity Festival on Friday

Real Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

The current discussion of “slow growth in measured productivity” here in the U.S. seems to suffer from a great deal of confusion. From my perspective, there are six things going on:

  1. Since the 1920s, the rise of non-Smithian information goods…
  2. Since 1973, the productivity slowdown…
  3. Since 1995, the semiconductor-driven infotech speedup…
  4. Since 2004, Moore’s Law hitting the wall…
  5. Since 2008, what we will soon be calling “The Longer Depression”…
  6. And, remember, policy changes to speed productivity growth may well be nearly orthogonal to all of the above save (5)…

To talk about the cause of “slow growth in measured productivity” as if it is just one, not five, things causes confusion. To identify one or a small number of causes of a single thing that is “slow growth in measured productivity” causes great confusion. And then to insist that the best policy move is to undo that one or small number of thing causes even greater confusion…

The productivity puzzle: How can we speed up the growth of the economy? Friday, September 9, 2016, 9:30 – 11:00 am, Falk Auditorium: The Brookings Institution:

After nearly a decade of strong productivity growth starting in the mid-1990s, productivity growth has slowed down over the most recent decade. Output per hour worked in the U.S. business sector has grown at only 1.3 percent per year from 2004 to 2015, and growth was even slower from 2010 to 2015 at just 0.5 percent a year. These rates are only half or less of the pace of growth achieved in the past.

The United States is not alone in facing this problem, as all of the major advanced economies have also seen slow productivity growth. This slow growth has been a major cause of weak overall GDP growth, stagnation in real wages and household incomes, and it strongly impacts government revenues and the deficit.

On September 9, 2016 the Initiative on Business and Public Policy and the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings will host a forum on the policy implications of the growth slowdown. Senior Fellow Martin Baily will present an overview paper on the causes of the slowdown, followed by a panel discussion on the most effective policies to enhance productivity performance. After the panel discussion, panelists will take questions from the audience. The event will be webcast live.

Join the conversation on Twitter at #Productivity

Welcome: Louise Seiner

Paper: Martin Baily

Panel: Moderator: David Wessel

  • Jonathan Baker
  • Robert Barro
  • J. Bradford DeLong
  • Bronwyn Hall

September 7, 2016


Brad DeLong
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