Should-Read: This seems to be an argument that much of productivity growth is driven by firm decisions that are not well correlated with their reported levels of investment. Investment has been low since the global financial crisis, but not that low—not nearly low enough to account for the noun very large labor productivity growth gap that has emerged: Simon Wren-Lewis: mainly macro: The Output Gap is no longer a sufficient statistic for inflationary pressure: "From 1955 to 2007 prosperity grew at an average rate of almost two and a quarter percent each year...

...Since then it has increased at an annual rate of around 0.35%. And if the OBR are right, none of this is due to unutilised resources and lack of demand. The shift in trend is just as clear if we look at output per worker.... I find it extraordinary that most economists still talk about the output gap after the GFC in the same way that it was talked about before the crisis: as a limit to how far and fast the economy can expand. To do that is in my view quite wrong. It ignores what I call the innovations gap: the difference between actual output and the level of output that firms could achieve if they started using the best technology available to them. Because there is currently a large innovations gap, firms are likely to meet additional demand not be raising prices but by investing in these more efficient techniques.

Before the GFC, we could ignore the innovation gap because it was relatively small. But since the crisis that gap for the UK and many other countries must have increased, because it is simply not plausible to assume that since the GFC technical progress has come to a virtual halt.... Why have most firms not been investing in the most productive equipment and techniques since the GFC? I think the simple answer is fixed costs and demand. Investment projects almost always involve a large fixed cost element (disruption, retraining), and with static demand those fixed costs may exceed any efficiency gain....

Exactly the same argument applies to the NAIRU: the level of unemployment at which inflation is constant. The NAIRU is almost certainly lower than most central banks think for a variety of reasons, but when it is approached I expected to see a pick up in investment and innovation more than a pick up in wage inflation.... A large innovation gap in the UK is being enhanced by Brexit....

The existence of a large innovations gap, both in the UK and elsewhere, means that we need two things. First, we need a monetary policy that is very relaxed about raising interest rates. Second we need, in the UK and pretty well everywhere, a large increase in public sector investment. The first needs independent central banks to be less inflation averse and to stop treating the sustainable level of output as something which is independent of what they do. The second requires governments to stop being obsessed about deficits and instead to start investing in the future of all the people they govern...

There is a Keynes quote:

Whilst the enlargement of the functions of government... in... adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism. I defend it... as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative.... If effective demand is deficient... the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards. Hitherto the increment of the world’s wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough...

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