Chapter 3: Future Imperfect
Computerised and electronic communications systems have, during the past decade, formed a set of interlocking markets that have enabled almost instantaneous movement of information around the globe. The resulting compression of time has accelerated the geographic mobility of data and funds, resulting in a swifter response to changes in relative costs and an almost instantaneous response to movements in exchange rates within a global stock market through which currencies, debt and futures are continuously traded. Running parallel with these revolutionary developments, there has been a thoroughgoing transformation of the regulations governing trade, transportation, communications and every element of exchange. The reform and removal of protective economic regulation has increased competition, thereby reducing costs. Prices have moved in line with costs, and demand has risen for transport and communications services. Shifts in production and trade have occurred and transnational manufacturing has been facilitated. Estimates published by Crandall and Ellig show that the five US ‘network’ industries - natural gas, telecommunications, airlines, trucking and railroads - all registered price falls of between 4 per cent and 15 per cent during the first two years of their respective deregulations. Prices have been lowered by at least 25 per cent within the last ten years. Competitive forces have aligned service quality with customers’ desires and stimulated innovation and consumer choice.’ According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at an average annual rate of 3.2 per cent over the period 1989-1999. The average rates of increase for telephone services...
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