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The Future of Economic Growth

As New Becomes Old

Robert Boyer

In this book, Robert Boyer follows the origins, course and collapse of the ‘new economy’ and proposes a new interpretation of US dynamism during the 1990s. He argues that the diffusion of information and communication technologies is only part of a story that also requires understanding of the transformation of the financial system, the reorganization of the management of firms and the emergence of a new policy mix. The book includes a long-term retrospective analysis of technological innovation, and an international comparison of OECD countries delivers an unconventional and critical assessment of the hope and the hype of the ‘new economy’.
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Chapter 7: The Long-term Historical Outlook after the Internet Bubble

Robert Boyer


INTRODUCTION It is now time to weigh up the various sides of the debate and focus on the general aspects and implications of the changes the US economy has gone through during the past two decades. What form can be identified at the present time regarding the various elements that have contributed to the processing and transmitting of information? Are lifestyles in the older industrialized countries likely to be changed by the advent of nomadic goods? Are the institutions which oversee industrial relations, the functioning of financial systems or the preservation of competition going to change significantly? Should we be worried that social inequalities will worsen along lines of demarcation defined by the ability to master the computer and the Internet? Will state power be seriously restricted as a result of the increased mobility that information technology facilitates? Finally, what might be the consequences of these new circumstances for the North–South divide and, more generally, for the development possibilities of the poorest countries? The present chapter deals with such questions, even though it would be wrong to imagine that full answers could ever be offered to such complex and thorny issues. Once we have transcended the euphoria and pessimism that financial markets alternatively convey, however, it ought to be possible to come up with an assessment that is more balanced than has been the case in the past (Table 7.1). There is little doubt that the very fabric of today’s economies is not what it was in the 1960s...

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