Lester Thurow is Professor of Economics and Management at MIT and the former Dean of the Sloan School of Management. He is the author of The Zero-Sum Society, Head to Head, and The Future of Capitalism. (February 1998)

Asia: The Collapse and the Cure

Economic collapses are an intrinsic part of capitalism. The names of the really big crashes ring down through history: Tulip Mania in Holland in the 1600s, the South Sea Bubble in Britain in the 1700s, the Great Crash of 1929 in America. More recently, in the 1990s, the Japanese bubble …

The Dishonest Economy

When Americans look at the underground economy in the Soviet Union and other communist countries many of them do so from a perspective of American moral superiority. Since an economy run on communist principles cannot supply the jobs, goods, and services that its people need, they say, otherwise law-abiding citizens …

How to Get Out of the Economic Rut

In 1983 and 1984 the United States was in the midst of a cyclical recovery that was being sold to the public as if it were permanent prosperity. While the selling job was successful, the “stable expansion” promised by the administration looks more and more like a mirage. Almost as …

Losing the Economic Race

Americans have reason to worry about their competitiveness on world markets. The deficit in America’s balance of trade is running at an annual rate in excess of $120 billion. This represents the loss of three million American jobs, jobs that would exist if exports matched imports. To finance such a …

The Elephant and the Maharajah

Since presidents tend to choose economic advisers who can be depended on to advise that presidents want to hear, the direction of intellectual influence runs more from president to adviser than from adviser to president. As is usually the case, the president, Mr. Reagan, and the chairman of his Council …

From Infancy to Senility and Back

I would prefer to construct a tower, an arch, or even a gargoyle on a great cathedral that will last for ages than to take credit for single-handedly constructing a shack that will be blown away by the next change in the winds of intellectual fashion. Despite a sprinkling of …

Sentimental Education

Almost anything other than maybe an indiscreet quotation or expression or metaphor that was contained in that article basically reflects things that I had been saying in our private deliberations as well as in public comments over the last nine months. —David Stockman at a press conference after William Greider’s …

How to Rescue a Drowning Economy

America does not need economic planning if planning means the centralized, detailed, input-output planning associated with the Soviet Union. America does need planning, however, if planning means the strategic coordination of planning associated with a corporate finance committee in a large corporation. Corporate finance committees do not plan the detailed …

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Productivity is the gold mine that determines our standard of living and our ability to compete as equals with the rest of the world. Productivity is output per hour of work. If it is rising, there is more economic gold to be divided among us. If productivity growth keeps up …

How to Wreck the Economy

The recent discussion of President Reagan’s budget has largely overlooked its most alarming feature, so far as the US economy is concerned. Reagan is proposing to increase defense expenditures by $142 billion, from $162 billion for the fiscal year 1981 in the current budget to $304 billion in fiscal year …