Is There a New Economy?

Stiroh, Kevin
July 1999
Challenge (05775132);Jul/Aug99, Vol. 42 Issue 4, p82
Unexpectedly strong economic performance in recent years has sparked a wide debate about the evolution of the U.S. economy, with observers from academia, business and government claiming that the 1990s mark the beginning of a unique era of economic prosperity. These "new economy" proponents view globalization and computerization as powerful forces that are reshaping the modern economy in a way that is fundamentally different from earlier industrial periods. Although these ideas are receiving considerable attention, there is not yet a consensus about what the new economy really means or how it should be defined and evaluated. To try to shed light on this debate, the paper examines the new-economy position and then offers a critical review of both the theory and the evidence. A broad reading suggests at least three different, but related, new-economy views. A long-run-growth version argues that stronger productivity growth now allows the U.S. economy to grow faster without inflationary pressures.


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