An additional explanation of slow growth is now receiving attention, however. It is the persistence and expectation of peace.
The world just hasn’t had that much warfare lately, at least not by historical standards...
It may seem repugnant to find a positive side to war in this regard, but a look at American history suggests we cannot dismiss the idea so easily. Fundamental innovations such as nuclear power, the computer and the modern aircraft were all pushed along by an American government eager to defeat the Axis powers or, later, to win the Cold War. The Internet was initially designed to help this country withstand a nuclear exchange, and Silicon Valley had its origins with military contracting, not today’s entrepreneurial social media start-ups. The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite spurred American interest in science and technology, to the benefit of later economic growth.
War brings an urgency that governments otherwise fail to summon. For instance, the Manhattan Project took six years to produce a working atomic bomb, starting from virtually nothing, and at its peak consumed 0.4 percent of American economic output. It is hard to imagine a comparably speedy and decisive achievement these days.For the record Cowen has, alternatively, within months, written a book arguing that the economy is stagnant, (See: The Great Stagnation) followed by a book that argues that "average is over,"(SEE: Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation. Now, apparently, he must believe the stagnation is back and that killing people is the only way to get the economy going once again.
This is the most incredible window fallacy distorted thinking I have seen in NYT, ever. Even Paul Krugman doesn't go this far, Krugman stops at calling for fighting against imaginary martians. Cowen apparently thinks the US would benefit from a major war and he seems to believe that if such a war were to be launched and caused the development of new weapons of mass destruction, this would be all the better for the economy.
Of course, the window fallacy comes into play here, because money not spent killing people in a "war for economic growth" doesn't disappear, it is simply directed to non-violent production. such as curved televisions, cell phone watches, smart phones, Uber, etc. And innovations take place that way.
For Henry Hazlitt's demolishing of the broken window theory, see his great book, Economics In One Lesson.