Re: Krugman looks back from 2096

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 11:39:54 MDT

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > "Third World families ... did not want to watch pretty graphics ...
> > they wanted to live in nice houses, drive cars, and eat meat.") ...
> > 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.
>However, he fails to apply his agriculture argument to production of houses,
>cars, and meat. When the price of a built house, car, or meat drops to
>levels (manufactured housing, eco-speck cars, and vat grown meat) then that
>segment of industry requires a far smaller segment of the population to
>and far smaller percent of per capita income to acquire (just as has happened
>with food production), then that segment of the economy takes on less
>importance, as he claims. He myopically fails to forsee any progress in
>technologies for reducing the cost of these commodities in 100 years time,
>I find to be a huge fault of his argument.

I'll side with Krugman here; yours is a nanosanta scenario where all consumer
goods are as cheap as wheat. Krugman forsees progress in the cost of ordinary
consumer goods, but the same sort of progress we have seen. So I'd bet he
wouldn't expect a nanosanta tech to be available in a century (if ever). He
might be wrong about that, but if so it's not because of bad economics.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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