May 21 (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is
an optimist about economic growth in the coming decades,
rejecting “depressing” views about a slowdown to put his faith
in collaborative innovation driven by a jackpot culture for
For his mental health, let’s hope he believes it.
For our economic wellbeing, let’s hope he doesn’t act on it.
While a series of economic revolutions has driven a 30-fold
increase in living standards between 1700 and 1970, economists
have recently fretted that the information technology changes of
recent years will yield less growth.
Bernanke, speaking last weekend to graduates at Bard College
at Simon’s Rock, in Massachusetts, was having nothing of it. Not
only will humans continue to innovate and to find ways to wring
value out of recent innovations, the rise of the Internet allows
for massive and rapid collaboration, he argued. And, as Mark
Zuckerberg can tell you, the potential rewards for innovation
exceed those in the past.
“Both humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to
innovate are greater today than at any other time in history,”
While Bernanke was careful to couch his views as being about
the long-run future, this kind of thinking, while perhaps
appropriate to graduation day, is a tad scary when done by the
man with his hands on the levers of monetary policy.