In 1999, Paul Krugman wrote a pretty negative review of Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree. At the end of the review, Krugman wondered aloud what the fashionable global vision would be in 2009:
Maybe I have just been in this business too long, and have seen too many global visions come and go. In 1979 everyone knew that it was a Malthusian world, that the energy crisis was just the beginning of a global struggle for ever-scarcer resources. In 1989 everyone knew that the big story was the struggle for the key manufacturing sectors, and that the winners would be those countries with coherent top-down industrial policies, whose companies weren't subject to the short-term pressures of financial markets. And in 1999 everybody knows that it's a global knowledge economy, where only those countries that tear down their walls, and open themselves to the winds of electronic commerce, will succeed. I wonder what everybody will know in 2009?Since we're only about 7 months away from 2009, I started thinking about what the new fashionable global vision is. It was actually harder than I thought, and I'm still not sure I came up with the right answer. But here goes. In 2009, everyone knows that oil, coal, and other dirty sources of energy are the root of all the world's problems, and that the key to prosperity for every country is to win the race to develop new, clean, and viable "alternative energy" sources. Ironically, Thomas Friedman has also bought this story hook, line, and sinker.