Brad DeLong on US Productivity

Brad DeLong made an interesting point about my earlier message here about productivity.

He said that the Chinese (using my earlier example) are making the shoes for five dollars because they have not yet developed brands to market them for themselves. When they do, the US GDP will go down accordingly.


This process seems to be already beginning. The idea behind the expectation of the future success of US intellectual property economy was people in the United States would do the high-value work while leaving the country to others.

I’m reminded of an exchange between Boswell and Samuel Johnson:

“Very little business appeared to be going forward in Lichfield. I found however two strange manufactures for so inland a place, sail-cloth and streamers for ships: and I observed them making some saddle-cloths, and dressing sheep skins: but upon the whole, the busy hand of industry seemed to be quite slackened. “Surely, Sir, (said I,) you are an idle set of people.”

“Sir (said Johnson) “We are a City of Philosophers: we work with our Heads, and make the Boobies of Birmingham work for us with their hands.”

But already, South Korea seems to be making great progress in design work, supposedly the domain of the brilliant people in the United States who honed their minds on the complexities of Paris Hilton and cage fighting.

How long will it be before Chinese brands win a reputation for quality? Some older people may recall when Japanese cars were considered junk.


1 comment so far

  1. sally paine on

    so much of global value added
    gets appropriated
    by exappropriators (ppppp)
    lets trust in the fact
    new foreign exs
    can make xs out of old domestic exs
    but then –around here anyway—
    who’ll be left with enough ex money
    to hire the most of us
    to wait on them ??

    white american’s
    would rather be exploited
    by their brothers of the skin
    and neighborhood

    the demon protection
    shall rise from its crypt

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