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Saving Resources to Save Growth

NEW YORK – Reconciling global economic growth, especially in developing countries, with the intensifying constraints on global supplies of energy, food, land, and water is the great question of our time. Commodity prices are soaring worldwide, not only for headline items like food and energy, but for metals, arable land, fresh water, and other crucial inputs to growth, because increased demand is pushing up against limited global supplies. Worldwide economic growth is already slowing under the pressures of $135-per-barrel oil and grain prices that have more than doubled in the past year.

A new global growth strategy is needed to maintain global economic progress. The basic issue is that the world economy is now so large that it is hitting against limits never before experienced.  There are 6.7 billion people, and the population continues to rise by around 75 million per year, notably in the world’s poorest countries. Annual output per person, adjusted for price levels in different parts of the world, averages around $10,000, implying total output of around $67 trillion.