Why We Don’t Build Anymore

A U.S. flag hangs above an entrance to the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Financialization and globalization explain Marc Andreessen’s thesis on the U.S. economy.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE M arc Andreessen wants America to build again. In a recent essay, the technology entrepreneur attributes the U.S.’s lackluster coronavirus policy response to insufficient domestic manufacturing capacity. Shortages of cotton swabs, test tubes, and personal protective equipment, Andreessen argues, reflect a general inability to create tangible goods.

Andreessen’s diagnosis fits into the broader thesis of technological stagnation put forward by Tyler Cowen, Peter Thiel, and Robert Gordon, among others. On that view, sometime in the second half of the 20th century, innovation slowed dramatically, and productivity growth along with it. While the late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a boom in

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