Friday, April 01, 2016

Productivity and all that

Here are two similar news items from this morning: "Online Groceries Becomes Next E-Commerce Battleground ..." and "E-Commerce Boom Roils Trucking Industry ..." We can be sure there are many others on the same theme.

Is there a productivity slowdown? Is it apparent or real?  Here is a SIEPR debate on the topic. Watch the whole thing.

It's the data. If we rely on traditional metrics, Hal Varian mentions various products that are no longer sold in the volumes they once were -- like cameras even though we take many more photos without them, using our smart phones. The conventional GDP data are ever less useful in these kinds of productivity assessments. On the other side, Nick Bloom does not dispute any of this but answers in terms of the uneven distribution of the benefits. But, again, the data that depict uneven benefits suffer from the same problems that Varian addresses.

There are an uncountable number of disparities in the world. How tolerable are these? How acceptable ("fair") are they? I briefly mentioned the politics in the previous post on the politics we have.

In the year of Clinton-Cruz-Sanders-Trump, is it time to address the most important question? How can we reduce the ambit of politics and thereby have some insurance against political disasters? Tyler Cowen poses the question.