Don't Write off The New Economy as Dead

CAMBRIDGE: Until recently America's booming New Economy reigned supreme: no inflation to speak of, stocks at all time highs, four years at over 4% growth, full employment, and budget surpluses. To that vision even cynics surrendered. Now everything looks different. Signs of inflation in product and labor markets loom; the only question now is whether the economy will slow quickly by itself or whether the Federal Reserve Board must beat it into the ground by quickly raising interest rates.

So, was it all hype or will the New Economy survive slowdown? The answer: it will live and spread throughout the world, becoming as pervasive as the welfare state and big government became in the 1930s. It will shape our economies and our lives for decades.

Why? The New Economy involves five interacting motors: technology, competition, and a new economic culture for government, households and business. Technology is the most obvious part: the telecommunications revolution is far more pervasive and spreading more rapidly than the telegraph or telephone did in their time. There is also the information revolution with its ability to create software programs that restructure dramatically tasks from accounting to ticketing, from finance to shopping to leisure. This part of the revolution is far from over: in fact, we are merely at the end of the beginning of this revolution. The explosion of computing capacity will soon introduce opportunities now out of reach of anyone's imagination today.

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