The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better

The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better


By (author) Tyler Cowen

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  • Publisher: E P Dutton & Co Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 109 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 194mm x 18mm | 159g
  • Publication date: 16 January 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0525952713
  • ISBN 13: 9780525952718
  • Illustrations note: black & white line drawings, graphs
  • Sales rank: 83,560

Product description

Tyler Cowen's "The Great Stagnation," the eSpecial heard round the world that ignited a firestorm of debate and redefined the nature of our economic malaise, is now-at last-a book. America has been through the biggest financial crisis since the great Depression, unemployment numbers are frightening, media wages have been flat since the 1970s, and it is common to expect that things will get worse before they get better. Certainly, the multidecade stagnation is not yet over. How will we get out of this mess? One political party tries to increase government spending even when we have no good plan for paying for ballooning programs like Medicare and Social Security. The other party seems to think tax cuts will raise revenue and has a record of creating bigger fiscal disasters that the first. Where does this madness come from? As Cowen argues, our economy has enjoyed low-hanging fruit since the seventeenth century: free land, immigrant labor, and powerful new technologies. But during the last forty years, the low-hanging fruit started disappearing, and we started pretending it was still there. We have failed to recognize that we are at a technological plateau. The fruit trees are barer than we want to believe. That's it. That is what has gone wrong and that is why our politics is crazy. Cowen reveals the underlying causes of our past prosperity and how we will generate it again. This is a passionate call for a new respect of scientific innovations that benefit not only the powerful elites, but humanity as a whole.

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Author information

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He is the author of "Discover Your Inner Economist" and "The Age of the Infovore," and he coblogs at, one of the world's most influential economics blogs. He writes regularly for "The New York Times" and has been a contributor to "The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Wilson Quarterly," and "Slate," among many other popular media outlets.

Review quote

"One of the most talked-about books among economists right now." -Renee Montagne, "Morning Edition", NPR "Tyler Cowen may very well turn out to be this decade's Thomas Friedman." -Kelly Evans, "The Wall Street Journal" "Cowen's book...will have a profound impact on the way people think about the last thirty years." -Ryan Avent, "As Cowen makes clear, many of this era's technological breakthroughs produce enormous happiness gains, but surprisingly little economic activity. -David Brooks, "The New York Times"