Understanding Economic Growth


One of the major topics I discuss on this blog is:

  • Economic growth, in particular the fact that the U.S. economy has grown at the relatively slow rate of 2.1% per year since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. It appears, however, that the economy may now be starting to pick up speed.

There are plenty of “experts” who say that it is unrealistic to expect economic growth to continue indefinitely at the same level (3% on average) which has prevailed since the end of WWII because:

  • Resources are limited. The earth is finite but it is also vast. It is unlikely that any mineral or even energy source such as fossil fuels will be depleted for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If and when any particular resource becomes scarce, human ingenuity will be able to find a replacement.
  • Population growth is slowing down. It is likely that human population worldwide will level off this century somewhere between 9 and 10 billion. This is highly desirable but is unlikely to slow down economic growth. As income and education levels rise, productivity and GDP per person will also increase.
  • Growth tends to be debt financed which is unsustainable.  I agree with this reservation. This is the one problem, if not solved, which has the potential to derail continued steady progress.

The remarkable human progress of the last 200 years is likely to continue indefinitely.  In particular:

Conclusion. The world has enjoyed remarkable human progress in the last two hundred years, in the form of steady economic growth, and this progress is likely to continue indefinitely into the future.

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