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There is a really good piece in the New York Times that addresses an old platitude - that low productivity gains create slow economic growth.

The story notes that "productivity growth is the weakest it has been since the early 1980s," and that this is seen as "the root cause of slow growth in both G.D.P. and worker pay.

"At least, that is the standard way of thinking about productivity and its relationship to the economy. In a mainstream view, productivity is a kind of magic force that helps explain rising output. New labor-saving inventions come along or new management practices are taken up that miraculously allow companies to produce more output with fewer hours of work."

But - and this is a big "but" - "what if this is the wrong way of thinking about it?" The Times writes: "What if productivity growth is not so much an external force that proceeds in random fits and starts, but is rather deeply intertwined with the overall state of the economy and labor market?

"It’s a chicken or egg problem: Does low productivity cause slow growth, or does slow growth cause low productivity?" And, the Times adds, "What’s particularly interesting is that this diagnosis — though decidedly not the policy prescriptions — has some overlap with the arguments of influential conservative economists."

It is a thoughtful piece, and worth reading here.
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