Innovationskrise oder Finanzkrise?

CAMBRIDGE – Während ein Jahr lustlosen Wachstums ins nächste übergeht, intensiviert sich die Debatte darüber, was wir in den kommenden Jahren erwarten können. War die globale Finanzkrise ein harter, aber vorübergehender Rückschlag für das Wachstum in den hoch entwickelten Volkswirtschaften oder hat sie ein tiefer liegendes, langfristiges Problem aufgezeigt?

In jüngster Zeit haben eine Reihe von Autoren, darunter der Internetunternehmer Peter Thiel und der politische Aktivist und ehemalige Schachweltmeister Garry Kasparow, eine relativ radikale Interpretation des Abschwungs vertreten. In einem in Kürze erscheinenden Buch argumentieren sie, dass der Wachstumseinbruch in den hoch entwickelten Ländern nicht bloß ein Resultat der Finanzkrise sei; an seiner Wurzel spiegele die Schwäche dieser Länder eine langfristige Stagnation im Bereich der Technologie und Innovation wider. Insofern dürfte es dort kaum eine nachhaltige Erholung des Produktivitätswachstums geben ohne radikale Veränderungen bei der Innovationspolitik.

Der Ökonom Robert Gordon geht noch einen Schritt weiter. Er argumentiert, dass die Phase des raschen technologischen Fortschritts, die auf die Industrielle Revolution folgte, eine 250 Jahre währende Ausnahme von der vorherrschenden menschheitsgeschichtlichen Stagnation sei. Tatsächlich, so legt Gordon nahe, seien die heutigen technologischen Innovationen im Vergleich zu früheren Entwicklungen wie der Elektrizität, fließendem Wasser, dem Verbrennungsmotor und anderen, inzwischen mehr als ein Jahrhundert alten Durchbrüchen relativ unbedeutend.

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