Your iPhone Just Might Help Us Out of This Recession

Maybe consumers aren't as screwed as you think.

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Columbia Business School Professor Amar Bhide's book The Venturesome Economy makes the case that there are more fundamental strengths to the U.S. economy, even with the recession, than many people think.

He's at it again in the Wall Street Journal today. His argument seems to be, basically, that even in bad economic times, people still find ways to spend money on the things that lead to prosperity down the road.

The good news is that the cutbacks are likely to be more severe in the less productive kind of consumption. History suggests that Americans don't shirk from venturesome consumption in hard times. The personal computer took off in the dark days of the early 1980s. I paid more than a fourth of my annual income to buy an IBM XT then -- as did millions of others. Similarly, in spite of the Great Depression, the rapid increase in the use of new technologies made the 1930s a period of exceptional productivity growth. Today, sales of Apple's iPhone continue to expand at double-digit rates. Low-income groups (in the $25,000 to $49,999 income segment) are showing the most rapid growth, with resourceful buyers using the latest models as their primary device for accessing the Internet.

This jives with a paper that Tyler Cowen linked to today. Historian Alexander Field writes in this paper that the decade in the 20th century with the most technological progress was actually the 1930s.

For more arguments about why the U.S. economy is not doomed, click here.


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