Quote of the Day: Let Economic Energy Bubble Up
In many ways Milton Friedman was a devil figure in my youth, in a Keynesian household of economists. I grew to see the issue as more nuanced as I was in school and ultimately have come to have enormous respect for Friedman's views on a range of questions. That's a respect that is born of the power of his arguments as one considers them more and more deeply. But it's a respect that's also born of the lessons of the experience of the success of decentralization in a place like Silicon Valley and of the failures of centralization in places like Central Europe and Russia.
In many ways some of the ideas of Hayek and Friedman about how markets best provide incentives, and best provide information, and best collect information may in a sense be even more true today, because of the changes that information technology is bringing, than they were at the time when they were propounded.
If you think about it, it cannot be an accident that it is the same 15-year period when communism fell, when command-and-control corporations like General Motors and IBM had to be drastically restructured, when planning ministries throughout the developing world were closed down, and when the Japanese model of industrial policy proved to be a complete failure.
There is something about this epoch in history that really puts a premium on incentives, on decentralization, on allowing small economic energy to bubble up rather than a more topdown, more directed approach, that may have been a more fruitful approach in earlier years.
~Lawrence J. Summers, 71st Secretary of the Treasury and Adviser to President-Elect Barack Obama