By Accident or Design – Optimism from a Dismal Scientist

> I recently spoke at a conference in Santa Monica California organised by the Design Management Institute entitled Designing the New Economy. Tired of being miserable, I decided to take on the fashionably gloomy view of the long term outlook. My presentation was entitled By Accident or Design – Optimism from a Dismal Scientist

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> While the devil may have the best tunes, the more I thought about it, the more the optimistic view began to appeal. After all, economic forecasters have hardly covered themselves in glory in the past. Indeed, few saw the financial crisis coming, so why should we take as read the new consensus that the West faces a Japan-style lost decade or two? The current pessimistic funk could prove just as misplaced as the self-congratulatory optimism that preceded the crisis. This is not to deny the current headwinds from debt deleveraging in the developed world. But they won’t last forever, and a growing list of exciting new technologies could spark a surprising surge of growth in the longer term. Economic reform and trade liberalisation are on the agenda, This is especially remarkable in the face of high unemployment, which makes destructively nationalistic options tempting. Emerging markets still have a lot of technological catching up to do, and despite occasional reverses, their economic governance is still on an improving trend.
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> The attached presentation (click here for the long version) summarises the case for optimism with the following twelve points:

> 1. Dismal economists are too pessimistic

2. Policy-makers are learning, by trial and error, and austerity won’t last forever

3. Crisis is shifting resources to more productive uses

4. New ways of financing are developing

5. The list of potentially disruptive technologies is impressive

6. Connectivity is still in its infancy

7. Network effects promise accelerated learning

8. Technology will create jobs as well as destroy them

9. Emerging markets still have a lot of catching up to do…

10. …and will fuel demand

11. Developed world still has leadership in design and technology…

12.  …which can drive growth and trade

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