*The Great Stagnation*

by on January 19, 2011 at 11:06 am in Books, Economics, History | Permalink

The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History,Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better.

That's the title and it's by me, the Amazon link is here, Barnes&Noble here.  That's an eBook only, about 15,000 words, and it costs $4.00.  If you wish, think of it as a "Kindle single."

Your copy will arrive on January 25 and loyal MR readers are receiving the very first chance to buy it.  Very little of the content has already appeared on MR.

Many of you have read my article "The Inequality that Matters," but there I hardly touched on median income growth.  That is because I was writing this eBook. 

Has median household income really stagnated in the United States?  If so, why?  Are the causes political or something deeper?  What are the important biases in how we are measuring national income and productivity and why do they matter for economic policy?  Are we getting enough value for all the extra money we are spending on the health care and education sectors?  What do some major right-wing and left-wing thinkers miss about this phenomenon?

How does all this relate to our recent financial crisis? 

I dedicated this book to Michael Mandel and Peter Thiel, two major influences on some of the arguments.  

Why did big government arise in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, what is its future, and why is science so important for macroeconomics?  How can we fix the current mess we are in?

Read (and buy) the whole thing.

I wish to thank my publisher, Dutton, for accommodating this experiment in a new medium.  I believe it will be one piece of our new publishing future and here is your chance, as a reader, to try it out.

Adam January 19, 2011 at 7:11 am

Looking forward to it. You may wish to change the title in light of yesterday's assorted links.

Andrew January 19, 2011 at 7:20 am

Now appears to be a good time to double-down on Thiel.

And Mandel explains why I left an industry determined to give away knowledge (My salary wasn't worth being asked to train my replacements, now I'm in grad school, hahaha).
http://innovationandgrowth.wordpress.com/

Sergey Kurdakov January 19, 2011 at 7:22 am

though it is very intresting to read what you wrote on subject, just one note:

I noticed among economists ( see growthology blog link) – lack of interest in effect of energy on economic growth ( and thus such aha reactions on the link ).

Naturally, as shown in this book energy*coeff of efficiency of use of energy

is almost alone determinant of economic growth ( while role of energy diminishes – due to technogical progress an efficiency of utilization of energy grows, and together – energy gives almost constant imput to economic well being )
( see also some info paper ).

of cause – one way to keep energy efficiency to grow, but at the same time,
cheap energy might change a lot.
and there are ways – from twice more cheap nuclear energy ( which is stated as achievable level of price in future candu docs ) to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_po… ( esp see links at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Criswell )

Travers January 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

Is there a reason Canadians aren't allowed to buy this book?

C January 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

I have a Kindle and I must say, you are on the right track experimenting with this content delivery approach (I was an English Literature student and have been somewhat of a fetishist of hard-copy books, but the ease and convenience of using an eReader like the Kindle has got me purchasing as much as possible for the device, rather than buying hard-copies).

I'll buy your book and give it a read. Congratulations.

E January 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

I'll send you a cool $4 cash for a PDF copy. Not planning on selling illegal copies, I just don't want to deal with Kindle/Nook formats. Deal? What about $5?

burger flipper January 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

disregard above post. did not see it was also available from B&N

mk January 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

Shall we call this a "blook"?

Slocum January 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

"Median wages have risen only slowly since the 1970s, and this multi-decade stagnation is not yet over. By contrast, the living standards of earlier generations would double every few decades."

If this is accurate — does this mean you reject the argument that living standards have improved substantially in the most recent generation independent of changes median wages? The argument is that if look at the living standards of average Americans across many dimensions, there are enormous changes for the better. Average Americans now–compared to a generation ago–travel much more, eat many more restaurant meals, and live in larger, better-equipped houses. Their cars are much safer and more reliable, their medical care is much better (Knee replacement? As an outpatient!?), their entertainment and communications options are far more expansive (and vastly cheaper). The quality of food available to Americans now is night and day better (even if many do not take advantage). What would '1970s man' make of a trip to 'Whole Foods' or, hell, even Starbucks? And I haven't even mentioned electronics.

Hell, in 2011, Americans may even be able to buy electronic books instantly for the equivalent of $.99 in 1975 dollars and argue with the author about it — before the book is even released ;) I'm sorry, but what f#*%ing stagnation?

mgj January 19, 2011 at 8:52 am

Can one also buy it as a …….book*?

i.e. a paper book?

Andrew January 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

According to Mandel, this is an accounting recession within an accounting depression.

Floccina January 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

Has median household income really stagnated in the United States?

No way! I do not understand how people can believe that real income stagnated! Inflation in the last 25 or more years has been way over estimated.

Jonathan January 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

The book won't even be out for over a week and the experiment has already gotten interesting…. DRM disputes, embargoes on at least three continents, oh, and let me add one more thing. Will it be Sony- Reader-capable without violating the DMCA? Neither Barnes and Noble nor Amazon are. I recommend giving Kobo a crack at this as well….

marc January 19, 2011 at 9:31 am

The problem lies in that our society and economy is based on sham, fakery, image, fudging, and ruse; running on the abundant wealth we happen to live on and in. We are like the spoiled trust-fund baby that has all his wishes fulfilled growing up, not really having to achieve anything, and erroneously basing successes on the ability to still draw on our trust fund as we stumble from one failure to another, while ever wasting and burning through our resources.

It becomes apparent to anyone that has gained a proper fundamental education. We are committing similar errors, as a society and country, as the Soviet Union did. We are basing our success on illusory, self-serving, and self-congratulatory, low-hanging results. The only difference is that whereas the Soviet Union was, using simile, equivalent to the multi-million dollar lottery winner who ends up millions in debt and hooked drugs; we are the equivalent douche-bag trust-fund frat-boy who has far more money than sense and ends up squandering his life and resources out of a mixture of stupidity and ignorance. Both only marginally differing in their monumental, epic underachieving potential.

dirk January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

You used a colon in the title. You fool!?

Jason January 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

For those who do not have a Kindle, you can use your smartphone or the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac programs to read Kindle books. I do not have a Kindle, but I read Kindle books on my smartphone and my PC.

Phillip Barron January 19, 2011 at 10:14 am

Not start a tangential conversation, but…

Can someone with a Kobo reading device either share your thoughts on it or post a link to a review going over its strengths/weaknesses? Looking at the books I've read in the last few years, only about 30% of them would be available on a Kindle. But more are available in epub format, which has me looking at a Kobo (I prefer the wireless sync, which is the only reason I'm not looking at a Sony). I've downloaded the Kobo app for iPhone and Mac and am impressed by both (yes, aesthetics matter to me), as opposed to the Sony ereader bookstore.

Thanks, and — more on topic — I love the idea of this new academic ebook niche. Longer than an article, shorter than a book, and substantial enough to charge a modest fee. The iTunes or App Store model of book selling. I would love to hear a follow-up post (perhaps after a few months of sales) about your experience selling a book this way.

Linda January 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

Got the iPad for Christmas, this is my first Kindle book purchase! Great experiment.

brendan January 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

"No, no, a thousand times, no! I hate to admit it, as a late convert, but PDF is not an acceptable choice for books & other complex reading materials."

why? what's so complex about a book?

I think a pay what you want PDF, or any other format for that matter, would be an awesome alternative to a book

john January 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

mmm…. never really wanted a Kindle 'til now. If I mail you 4 bucks, 50 quarters (est. 300 word per page) for the copier and a stamped self addressed envelope will you send me a copy?

Mat January 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Would love to buy it, but not available in Europe on Kindle, and no fallback in the form of a paper version either. Hmmmm….

Will it become available in Europe? And: why is it not? Is this your choice, or the choice of your publisher? ( I am interested in how this works)

Ken Burgin January 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Not available in Australia – frustrating. Look forward to your response to these comments from international readers – thanks!

Space January 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Not available in Japan :-(

dearieme January 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

15000 words. Is that about a novella in length?

Russian History Prof January 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Are you sure Brezhnev doesn't have a copyright on "great stagnation"?

RD January 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Although we're used to plenty of economics writing for free (on this and other sites), four bucks sounds pretty reasonable, I'm in.

boris January 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Why use median household income when households have become smaller in past decades? Why not use real income per capita?

Sowell: "Real income per capita has risen 50 percent over the same span of time when household income has remained virtually unchanged. How is this possible?"

I am not an economist, can someone explain why we should look at household income?

Buck Farmer January 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Pre-ordered in China using my U.S. Amazon account.

Tyler, did you get a publisher for this so you'd have someone to enforce IP claims and thus royalties? Otherwise, it seems to have just caused a headache for all your ex-U.S. readers.

Mat January 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Gimlet: "I don't know how enforceable the geographic restrictions will be if they're based on your proxy server… Or maybe it's tied to your Amazon account on Amazon, based on your credit card?"

It is based on the address on the credit card. No easy way around. For Kindle users outside the US this is a constant irritation, because there are a lot of books not available on Kindle outside the US. But there is always a print version. In this case, however, there is not.

ofis koltuklari January 20, 2011 at 12:39 am

The quality of food available to Americans now is night and day better (even if many do not take advantage). What would '1970s man' make of a trip to 'Whole Foods' or, hell, even

Reminder Call January 20, 2011 at 6:22 am

You do not need a Kindle device to read Kindle eBooks. You can download from Amazon and read on your PC, iPhone, Blackberry or iPad.

Thomas A. Coss January 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Thanks for the experiment, ordered and eager for an excellent read.

Ken Payne January 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Wanted to buy, but I have a Sony, and there is no link…

Sandra H Howerton January 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Those without a Kindle or other ebook reader can download the free Kindle for PC application from Amazon or get it in PDF from penguin.com and read it on your PC. Of course, the PDF reader from Adobe is also free for PCs.

Avi Flax January 30, 2011 at 7:18 am

I’d like to read the book but I won’t buy Kindle or Nook books, primarily because of the DRM, specifically because of the restrictions on lending. If you made an unrestricted ePub or PDF file available I’d pay $10 for it, and I’d share it responsibly.

I recommend you consider selling the book as pay-what-you-want DRM-free file. You’d benefit because anyone in the world could buy and share it easily. This has been widely successful with music. If you need help with the technical aspects I’d be happy to be of service.

office chairs January 31, 2011 at 4:33 am

prices as well as highest quality in these business lines. Enjoy all the name brand aaa you can get Kindle apps for your smart phone or computer and read it that way.

Pedro X February 1, 2011 at 1:50 am

It is available now for Australians. I have just bought a copy. Thanks heaps for making it available to international folks.

otel rehberi February 14, 2011 at 6:11 am

It is astonishing that this sort of derangement is unavoidable wherever I go on the web, almost regardless of the topic.

Jack Davis March 5, 2011 at 7:56 am

U do not need a Kindle/Zune, etc.. U can download a Kindle app to ur PC Tyler C. discusses this in his podcast at econolog.com. (Go to the very last few minutes).He alsosays Penguin offers a fee ereader at their site, although I could not find it there.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: