The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better by Tyler Cowen
The Great Stagnation, a short yet ambitious e-book by economist Tyler Cowen, has been generating a lot of buzz lately. It has been recommended by Matthew Yglesias (ThinkProgress), Ezra Klein (Washington Post), Tim Harford (Financial Times), and Nick Schulz (Forbes), to name a few.
I bought the book on the suggestion of EmmaZahn here at dagblog. I found it to be clear, original, and so engrossing that I missed my subway stop. But I did not ultimately find it persuasive.
In the book, Cowen argues that America's spectacular growth of the past 200 years has been driven by the consumption of "low-hanging fruit" which we have now exhausted. In particular, he cites cheap land, advances in education, and technological innovation. He argues that since we can no longer rely on these drivers, our economy will stagnate for the foreseeable future.
But you don't have to be an economist to see that the evidence Cowen relies on to bolster his low-hanging fruit theory has been derived from some aggressive cherry picking.