Tag Archives: Industrial economy

End of a golden age

BOOK REVIEW

An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Rise of the Ordinary Economy, Author: Marc Levinson.

By Marc Levinson – Between 1948 and 1973, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Italy had not a single year of recession. West Germany and Canada did almost as well. The good times rolled on so long that people took them for granted.

Governments and the economists who advised them happily claimed the credit. Careful economic management, they said, had put an end to cyclical ups and downs. Governments possessed more information about citizens and business than ever before, and computers could crunch the data to help policymakers determine the best course of action. In a lecture at Harvard University in 1966, Walter Heller, formerly chief economic adviser to presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson, trumpeted the success of what he called the ‘new economics’. ‘Conceptual advances and quantitative research in economics,’ he declared, ‘are replacing emotion with reason.’

The Golden Age was wonderful while it lasted, but it cannot be repeated. If there were a surefire method for coaxing extraordinary performance from mature economies, it likely would have been discovered a long time ago. more> https://goo.gl/oQN8FL

Updates from GE

By Samantha Shaddock – GE’s Slide Rule Sisters — Loren Ingraham, Betty Lou Bailey, Eleanor Semple and Janet Neely — worked closely with jet engine pioneer Gerhard Neumann and used their mathematics and physics expertise to advance jet-engine design in the aftermath of World War II.

“When I started going to technical engineering meetings … men just stared — a woman engineer!” Loren Ingraham told the Post in 1956. “Now when I walk in, they just sort of glance over their shoulders.”

The second world war was pivotal for the women who took the place of male engineers who’d been called to the armed forces. In 1940, fewer than 800 female engineers were working in the U.S., according to the Post’s profile. By the time the story ran 16 years later, their ranks had grown to 4,000.

Today’s numbers are better, but they’re nowhere near what they could be. Women account for 14 percent of all engineers in the U.S. and only 25 percent of information technology professionals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the aerospace and mechanical engineering fields, women make up less than 10 percent of the workforce.

GE currently employs 14,700 women in engineering, manufacturing, IT and product management, which represents 18 percent of the company’s technical workforce. GE is aggressively pursuing a plan to grow their numbers even further by setting goals of having 20,000 women fill STEM roles at GE by 2020 and obtaining 50:50 representation for all its technical entry-level programs. more> https://goo.gl/DQWP5K

Updates from GE

GE Just Turned the World’s Most Powerful Jet Engine Into A 65-Megawatt Power Plant
By Tomas Kellner – GE is taking the world’s largest jet engine and turning it into a power plant. The machine’s beating heart comes from the GE90-115B, which is the largest and most powerful jet engine, capable of producing 127,900 pounds of thrust, according to Guinness World Records. The electricity generator, which GE calls LM9000, will be able to generate a whopping 65 megawatts — enough to supply of 6,500 homes — and reach full power in 10 minutes.

The technology is also a good example of what GE calls the GE Store — the system of sharing technology, research and expertise among its many businesses. Today, aeroderivatives power towns and factories but also oil platforms and ships. more> https://goo.gl/dSwnhF

Is greatness finite?

BOOK REVIEW

Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit, Author: Joyce E Chaplin.
Utopia, Author: Thomas More.
The Population Bomb, Author: Paul Ehrlich.

By Joyce E Chaplin – To see human nature and the rest of nature as out of sync is important – if done consciously. Today it is easy to find repudiations of neoliberalism, the doctrine, ascendant since the 1980s of Margaret Thatcher‘s UK and Ronald Reagan‘s US, that private activities produce public good and personal happiness more effectively than any public investment or oversight.

Nearly 40 years on, we finally query the wisdoms of a neoliberal society. But without knowing exactly what it got wrong, it’s impossible to do better.

The Tudor humanist Thomas More and the Regency clergyman Thomas Robert Malthus, of all people, can help us. They are experts on our moment. Together, their key works turn a spotlight on the much disparaged, pre-neoliberal 1970s, when things could have gone differently.

The 1970s represent the last serious discussion of whether and how humans can manage the rest of nature for the greater good. We need that forthright mix again, bitter Malthusian tea served, nevertheless, with a sweet lump of Utopia.

The last days of disco, the 1970s, were the glorious times before the buzz of neoliberalism. Before greed was good and environmental limits were negotiable, people worried about staying alive and danced to ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Circumstances warned against the easy acquisition of happiness, yet people sought it, indeed, preached that it should be available to all.

Now, nations, states, innovators and cultural leaders have accepted the dubious promise of neoliberalism, that to extract private wealth from everything is an excellent way of being.

The good news is that the upcoming arguments – indeed they have already begun – about what to do next can do more than repeat the nearly parodistic Adam SmithKarl Marx confrontation that has dominated for at least a generation. more> https://goo.gl/sjnI4f

A General Logic of Crisis

BOOK REVIEW

How Will Capitalism End? Author: Wolfgang Streeck.
Buying Time, Author: Wolfgang Streeck.
The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order 1916-31, Author: Adam Tooze.

By Adam Tooze – The core of Streeck’s crisis theory is non-Marxian. It does not rest on the violence of original primitive accumulation, or on the alienation or exploitation inherent to the productive process, or even primarily on the declining rate of growth or accumulation.

In one disarming passage he describes capitalism as a ‘a non-violent, civilized mode of material self-enrichment through market exchange’. What makes capitalism toxic is its expansiveness, its relentless colonization of the rest of society. Drawing on Karl Polanyi, Streeck insists that capitalism destroys its own foundations.

It undermines the family units on which the reproduction of labor depends; it consumes nature; it commodifies money, which to function has to rest on a foundation of social trust. For its own good, capitalism needs political checks.

The significance of 2008 and what has happened since is that it is now clear these checks are no longer functioning. Instead, as it entered crisis, capitalism overran everything: it forced the hand of parliaments; it drove up state debts at taxpayers’ expense at the same time as aggressively rolling back what remained of the welfare state; the elected governments of Italy and Greece were sacrificed; referendums were canceled or ignored. more> https://goo.gl/T9bS8i

Shaping the Future of Production

A. T. Kearney – The world of production is one that we define as the full chain of activities to “source-make-deliver-consume-reintegrate” products and services, from origination of inputs, product design, manufacturing and distribution to customer/consumer use and return/reuse.

Production fundamentally impacts our economic structure at a global, regional, national and local scale, on the levels and nature of employment, and is now inextricable from environmental and sustainability initiatives.

Collectively, the sectors comprising production have been an important source of economic growth for developed and emerging nations alike, providing well paid jobs for an increasingly skilled workforce, and they continue to be the dominant focus of innovation and development efforts in most countries.

Disruptive technologies from additive manufacturing to artificial intelligence are transforming global production systems and unleashing a new wave of competition among both producers and countries. They impact and alter all end-to-end steps of the production process and, as a result, transform the products that consumers demand, factory processes and footprints, and the management of global supply chains, in addition to industry dynamics and countries’ access to value chains. Just as we look back at the invention of the spinning jenny, steam engine or the assembly line as turning points in history which changed society, the economy and environment, our descendants are likely to look back on today’s technological advances as the start of a new industrial revolution. more> https://goo.gl/zB86hS

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What is logic?

BOOK REVIEW

Critique of Pure Reason, Author: Immanuel Kant.
A History of Formal Logic, Author: J M Bocheński.
Principles of Philosophy, Author: René Descartes.
Summa Theologica, Author: Thomas Aquinas.
Meditations on First Philosophy, Author: René Descartes.
Port-Royal Logic, Authors: Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole.
The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, Author: George Boole.
Begriffsschrift, Author: Gottlob Frege.
Principia Mathematica, Authors: Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell.

By Catarina Dutilh Novaes – The history of logic should be of interest to anyone with aspirations to thinking that is correct, or at least reasonable.

Descartes hits the nail on the head when he claims that the logic of the Schools (scholastic logic) is not really a logic of discovery. Its chief purpose is justification and exposition, which makes sense particularly against the background of dialectical practices, where interlocutors explain and debate what they themselves already know. Indeed, for much of the history of logic, both in ancient Greece and in the Latin medieval tradition, ‘dialectic’ and ‘logic’ were taken to be synonymous.

Up to Descartes’s time, the chief application of logical theories was to teach students to perform well in debates and disputations, and to theorize on the logical properties of what follows from what, insofar as this is an essential component of such argumentative practices. It’s true that not everyone conceived of logic in this way: Thomas Aquinas, for example, held that logic is about ‘second intentions’, roughly what we call second-order concepts, or concepts of concepts. But as late as in the 16th century, the Spanish theologian Domingo de Soto could write with confidence that ‘dialectic is the art or science of disputing’. more> https://goo.gl/iFCWw4

Globalization needs to be all or nothing

By Dambisa Moyo – Much of the criticism leveled against globalization today is related to the idea that it enriches the few, while leaving many people behind.

Policymakers exhibit a blind spot for the true costs and consequences of the policy decisions that they make today. Beholden to a national electorate and a desire to win and stay in office, policymakers show tendencies towards a zero-sum mentality—the idea that in key policy decisions and practical implementation, nations are defined as either winners or losers.

Trade policies are myopic in that policy-makers appear oblivious to the fact that the trade policies they implement today have enormous costs and consequences to their own economies in the future.

To reach a form of globalization that can succeed requires a level of change that will be hard to put in place. In today’s form of globalization, no one is responsible for the “global” economic interest. Instead, it is led by “world” leaders who are incentivized and court national electorates. more> https://goo.gl/WCMJHS

America Is Still Making Things

By Alana Semuels – So-called advanced manufacturing, which is highly specialized and requires a facility with computers, is actually expanding. The U.S. economy will need to fill 3.5 million skilled manufacturing jobs over the next decade, the White House says. This is an industry that employs skilled and educated workers such as engineers and scientists. It’s also an industry that adds significant value to the economy.

Of course, the U.S. has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, and those losses have reverberated across the country. The scale of those losses has overshadowed areas of growth—but there has been growth.

A key point often missed in the debate over whether it’s trade or automation that has displaced American jobs. Automation and trade are deeply entwined phenomena; trade increases pressures to automate or export simple jobs, but also incentivizes the U.S. to specialize and create more high-paying jobs.

The catch is that traditional manufacturing workers don’t have those advanced degrees, and can’t get those jobs.

Unskilled jobs in the industry have been disappearing for decades as technology and globalization have made them obsolete. Yet technology is also enabling new types of jobs that provide a career for people who know how to use it.

The hard part is what happens to everyone else. more> https://goo.gl/cyCLkE

Updates from GE

GE At 125: These Pioneers Helped Shape The Way We Live [Video]
By Tomas Kellner – GE will be 125 years old in 2017, and the company has shaped many aspects of modernity we now take for granted.

Over the last few years, we’ve visited pioneers such as Nick Holonyak, who developed in GE labs the first LED that emitted visible light, Joseph Sorota, who helped build the first American jet engine at GE Aviation, and Arnold Spielberg, who designed the computer that ran the first version of BASIC, the programming language that helped launch home computing.

For good measure, we throw in a profile of Don Wetzel, who used GE jet engines to build the world’s fastest jet-powered train. Take a look. more> https://goo.gl/qZjOj8