Lawrence H. Summers presents a new paradigm for thinking about the current economic and technological revolution
We are buffeted by the sense that everything is accelerating: digital technology is changing the way we work, shop, and socialize. And yet for all the talk about disruptive innovations, economic growth is largely stagnant. We are told that with new technologies average citizens are empowered as never before, and yet wide swaths of the population feel powerless and can no longer count on stable careers and a better life for their children. As Lawrence H. Summers shows in The Post-Widget Society, these are the paradoxes that define the economic revolution that is transforming our world.
At the heart of this revolution are two dramatic developments in Western economies: the declining significance of widgets (mass-produced goods) and the rise of design goods (products that cost a lot to design but little to produce); and the controversial prospect of secular stagnation, the long-term phenomenon of negligible economic growth and depressed employment in a dynamic market economy. Written with Chrystia Freeland, Summers’s trenchant analysis of these trends reveals that they have profound implications not only for the future of jobs and widening income inequality but also for the nature of the state and the very stability of society.
A bold, path-breaking book by one of our most important economists, The Post-Widget Society is necessary reading for every American concerned about our economic and political future.