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Conventional economic wisdom says that with oil prices spiking up into the $70-$80 a barrel range, we should be having a recession. Oil acts as a huge tax and it is sucking out buying power from consumers and purchasing power from businesses (JetBlue would be buying more planes if it didn’t have to pay so much for fuel). But the economy continues to power on. What gives?
I would venture to say that innovation is making the economy ever more energy-efficient in a million different ways that we do not see. Productivity growth continues to soar at record levels and this week the government will report a gain of close to 3% for the first quarter. Yes, productivity growth did drop late last year but that decline is turning out to be an anomaly. Over the past five years, productivity has been exceptionally strong. It was strong in the late 90s as well.
It’s no accident that companies have been focussing on innovation in this same 10 year period. And not just product and service innnovation but business model innovation as well. The plug-and-play network system of organization, in an indirect and weird way, is very energy efficient. The Treo and Blackberry systems, in an indirect way, are very energy-saving—and very productivity-enhancing.
Think about it.
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