The Rise and Fall of American Growth

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The Rise and Fall of American Growth
By Robert J. Gordon
Princeton University Press, 2016
768 pp.
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Almost seven years after the Great Recession officially ended, the U.S. economy continues to grow at a sluggish rate. Real wages are stagnant. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 1999 and has barely risen in the past several years despite the formal end of the recession in 2009. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and the Congressional Budget Office have taken more seriously the idea that U.S. productivity, one of the most important sources of economic growth, may stay low. Some experts think that the current slowdown is a temporary blip and that exponential improvements in digital technologies are transforming the world’s economies for the better; others are more pessimistic. Chief among the doomsayers is Gordon, a professor of economics at Northwestern University. His latest entry into this debate is one of the most interesting and important economics book of the year. It provides a splendid analytic take on the potency of past economic growth, which transformed the world from the end of the nineteenth century onward. Gordon thinks Americans are unlikely to witness comparable advances again and forecasts stagnant productivity for the United States for the foreseeable future. Read the full review.