I read Sonic Boom by Gregg Easterbrook to help me better anticipate the next economy. There are several significant takeaways from this book I'll refer back to once I return to formulating my predictions for what we're moving into and leaving behind:
- The planet is now connected by a vast network of deep sea ports and enormous cargo ships. The international trade of raw materials and finished goods is fully supported throughout the world.
- Trading partners need each other and maintain trade balances out of their own self interests. The alarming trade imbalances are mostly urban legends.
- The good news is extremely under-reported by journalists who seem inclined to catastrophize, awfulize and demonize the bad news. (I've witnessed this pattern recently with the financial bailouts that have been repaid, the massive safety recalls by Toyota and the blowup of the BP deep sea oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico)
- The explosion of global population in my lifetime from 3 to 6.5 billion has occurred amidst widespread declining birth rates. The increase is explained by declining mortality rates, longer life spans and better living conditions.
- The overall population on the planet is successfully migrating out of poverty into better standards of living and better forms of governance.
- A surprising variety of cities that were devastated by the obsolescence of an essential technology have reinvented themselves with inspiring resourcefulness and ingenuity.
- The fees earned by venture capitalists amount to being paid to buy lottery tickets once the VC's have hit the jackpot with a particular start-up. It's no wonder the venture capital industry does not want to be scrutinized or regulated to protect investors.
- The increased complexity of the world we work and live in calls for universal college educations. This change resembles the industrial revolution which necessitated the construction of enough high schools to give every citizen more than an elementary education that had sufficed for the prior agrarian economy.
These are the gems that stayed with me a week after reading Sonic Boom. I suspect these proved to be memorable to me because the tie into the questions I'm exploring and the hypotheses I'm formulating.