Re: Krugman looks back from 2096

From: Max More (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 10:08:45 MDT

At 06:38 AM 7/12/00, Robin wrote:
>That article just has David Henderson complaining about failed short term
>predictions of US GDP growth and oil prices. Most economists have been
>surprised by GDP growth. And as Damien Sullivan noted, oil prices have
>rebounded lately. I do agree that Krugman's prediction of rising resource
>prices was the least persuasive of his six main prediction areas. But even
>that isn't crazy - I'd give it at least a 20% chance of happening.

As I said, that was just the source I came across, and I do like many
things Krugman has written. I actually think his point about the declining
long-term value of "symbol manipulators" (or similar term) is interesting
and plausible, though I think it will turn out quite differently than the
future he portrays. OTOH, the fact that lots of other economists were
surprised by US GDP growth isn't a *defense* of Krugman, except in relative
terms. And I agree with you that of his six predictions, the rising
resource prices was the least persuasive.

As I've said, Krugman and most economists can be faulted for not understanding
>specific technologies in more detail. But most futurists can be faulted for
>not understanding much economics. The later sin seems much greater to me.

As someone with a degree in economics I can smugly agree with you, though I
wouldn't call it a "sin". Looking back at the history of future
projections, it's clear that many went seriously wrong because of a failure
to consider economic factors. I'm currently studying scenario planning.
This doesn't really try to predict THE future, but to lay out several
possible futures depending on underlying driving forces. Clearly economics
AND technology are important driving forces.

Overall, I find Krugman mostly okay. It's just, as I said before, that I
don't think he really understands some of the changes in the economy very
well. He may not have read recent good books in business theory. The best
of the business theorists seem to grasp changes in business models due to
new technologies better than most economists I've observed. So I would say
futurists would do well to understand technology, economics, AND business
theory. (Plus philosophy, culture...)



Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute.
CEO, MoreLogic Solutions. or

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