Today, numerous economists and technologists say that long-gestating technologies may be ready to propel a similar frenzy of commerce. This time, the economic engine might start with artificial intelligence; the pharmaceutical industry, turbo-charged by the historically fast creation of the Covid-19 vaccine; a new era of super-batteries and electric vehicles; and a re-imagination of cities, with much of the workforce permanently dialing in from home. A currently dammed-up tidal wave of cash could finance this economic deluge, these economists say — some $3.7 trillion sitting on the sidelines in personal savings accounts and corporate cash reserves.
But the forecasts hinge on a number of presumptions. Even if you accept that a ton of cool, potentially economy-driving ideas may be out there on the horizon, who is to say their time will come in the 2020s — or whether, like the refrigerator, which only took hold in the 1930s, when their high price dropped, they are likelier to ripen in the next decade? What if we are actually looking at a Thundering Thirties?