We have been in uncharted economic territory since well before we hit the wall in 2008. While we’re treading water reasonably well we are not finding the corrections that must follow every major downturn. Maybe it would help if we moved passed the Keynes vs. Friedman debate that still dominates economic theory.
Keynes died in 1946. We are starving for new economic thought to act as the driving force for new and appropriate economic policy. What other discipline has produced such a lack of innovation in the past seventy years? The question begs asking: with the onset of econometrics in the 60s and 70s did we confine our economists to conduct statistical analysis and prepare projections? Even In those areas, economics is a behavioural science so negative projections are almost always softened so as not to become self fulfilling.
Regardless in today’s fast paced global economy we need new theory and very different action plans. We need to revamp our organizational structures to incorporate greater resilience and adaptability. There is a pressing need to redefine capitalism or at least to reel it in so that the strong trend to increase the rewards for capital while reducing the rewards to labour don’t wreak social disaster . Frankly too Big to Fail is simply Too Big! Large corporations are truly multinational and chase profits above all else. Just look at the reward systems of the largest corporations. These same corporations are hoarding cash because they cannot move fast enough to build from the bottom up. The have to grow through acquisition buying up successful startups. In that sense entrepreneurs offer a lifeline for Big Business which also gains much needed flexibility by contracting out to independents. We have abandoned fundamental microeconomic theories like the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Optimum Size of the Firm, lost in a culture of control enhanced by market dominance founded upon effective branding.
All of this points to a much greater emphasis on entrepreneurial thinking and entrepreneurs as our economic saviours. It will be entrepreneurs who invest locally who will solve many structural issues. Entrepreneurship has become the economic wonder drug of the 21st century. For individuals this is the key to their economic well being and any hope of upward mobility. In our modern world dominated by globalization, technology and inherent rapid change enhanced by Big Data, we do need to establish new sound economic principles rather than continuing to make it up as we go.