The untold story of how America once created the most successful economy the world has ever seen and how we can do it again.
The American economy glitters on the outside, but the reality is quite different. Job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans in the most prosperous areas - and destroying middle-class jobs elsewhere. To turn this tide, we must look to a brilliant and all-but-forgotten American success story and embark on a plan that will create the industries of the future - and the jobs that go with them.
Beginning in 1940, massive public investment generated breakthroughs in science and technology that first helped win WWII and then created the most successful economy the world has ever seen. Private enterprise then built on these breakthroughs to create new industries - such as radar, jet engines, digital computers, mobile telecommunications, life-saving medicines, and the internet - that became the catalyst for broader economic growth that generated millions of good jobs. We lifted almost all boats, not just the yachts.
Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second. It's a visionary, pragmatic, sure-to-be controversial plan that will lead to job growth and a new American economy in places now left behind.
"Opportunities for technological breakthroughs have never been greater, but America is fumbling its historic leadership. Gruber and Johnson explain with clarity, authority and insight how America can regain its innovation mojo." (Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and coauthor of The Second Machine Age)
"In Jump-Starting America, Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson present an innovative and compelling case to invest more in innovation, and they propose a bold plan to ensure that the benefits are shared throughout the US and the money is spent wisely. Nothing less than the preeminence of the US economy hangs in the balance." (Alan B. Krueger, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Bendheim professor of economics and public affairs, Princeton University)
"Something has gone profoundly wrong with the US economy over the last two decades. Economic growth has been disappointing, and the little of it we have witnessed has benefited the already rich and left everybody else behind. This wonderfully readable book by two leading scholars explains why and what to do about it. It is a powerful call for action for the government to get involved, encourage innovation in local clusters, and help the economy get back to creating good jobs for ordinary Americans. A must read." (Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail and Elizabeth and James Killian professor of economics, MIT)