Was Steve Jobs’ iPhone a more important innovation than James Watt’s steam engine?

Separate steam condenser - world changing innovation

US economist Tyler Cowan argues convincingly that the significant gains in productivity of the past, from James Watt through production line manufacturing to the early 1970s were an anomaly, the result of what he terms economic low hanging fruit. We are now left with a high-tech ‘great stagnation’ where productivity growth has slowed and median incomes have stalled or even declined. It can be argued that this flattening of innovation driven productivity growth is the deep-seated reason for our current economic predicament. We have in effect substituted financial engineering for real engineering and invested in property rather than productivity.

The long road to Green serfdom

An uncommon sight in the Bundestag

Chancellor Angela Merkel is no slouch. A quantum chemistry PhD no less, she understands better than most the technical intricacies of nuclear energy. It is therefore all the more surprising that a savvy, technocrat politician has been manoeuvred into legislating a national prohibition on nuclear energy.