We tend to view prolonged economic downturns, like the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the Long Depression of the late 19th century, in terms of the crisis and pain they cause, rather than as the opportunities they invariably represent. But history teaches us that these great crises are opportunities to remake our economy and society and generate whole new epochs of economic growth and prosperity. These periods of “creative destruction” have been some of the most fertile, in terms of innovation, invention and energetic risk-taking in history, and this is what sets the stage for full-scale recovery.
In THE GREAT RESET, bestselling author and economic development expert Richard Florida provides an engaging and sweeping examination of these previous economic epochs or “resets,” distilling the deep forces that shaped their physical and social landscapes, reshaping economies and societies. Looking toward the future, Florida identifies the patterns that will drive the next Great Reset and simultaneously reshape virtually every aspect of our lives—from how and where we live to how we work to how we invest in individuals and infrastructure, and how we shape our cities and regions. Florida shows how these core elements, when taken together, will spur a fresh era of growth and prosperity, define a new geography of progress, and stimulate surprising opportunities for each of us. Among these forces will be:
- new consumption patterns and new assumptions about “ownership” that are less centered around houses and cars,
- new forms of infrastructure that speed the movement of people, goods and ideas
- a radically altered and much denser economic landscape organized around megaregions that will drive the development of new industries, jobs and a whole new way of life.
We’ve weathered tough times before. They are a necessary part of economic cycles, giving us a chance to see clearly what’s working and what’s not. Societies can be reborn in such crises, emerging fresh, strong and refocused. Now is our chance to anticipate what that brighter future will look like, and take the steps that will get us there faster
With his trademark blend of wit, irreverence, and rigorous research and analysis, Florida presents a, positive and counterintuitive vision of our future, one that calls into question long-held beliefs about the nature of economic progress and that forces us to reassess our very way of life. He argues convincingly that it’s time to turn our efforts, as individuals, as governments, as a society, to putting the necessary pieces in place for a vibrant, prosperous future.
Story behind the book – by Richard Florida
When I was a boy, my father liked to remind me that the Great Depression remade America from the ground up. The invention of new technology, the increased productivity of factories and assembly lines, the struggles of workers for higher wages and better working conditions; and the actions of government to stimulate the economy, regulate banks, create a modern mortgage market, and provide a new kind of social safety net during the crisis—all these forces paved the way for the dramatic upswing in economic growth after World War II.
My dad – a blue collar worker born in 1921 who dropped out of junior high school to take up work in an eyeglass factory– had intuited something that also captured the attention of the greatest economic thinkers of our time, but which many contemporary policy-makers and business analysts continue to miss even today: Economic crises are critical periods when our economy is remade in ways that allow it to recover and grow again. Karl Marx wrote that it was old patterns of class relations that hold back the incredible raw productive forces of capitalism; he saw crises as the way to realign those social relations, and revolutionize the economy. For Joseph Schumpeter, the greatest theorist of entrepreneurship, innovation and business cycles, it was crisis that released the inventive and entrepreneurial spirits and gave rise to the great gales of creative destruction that remake industries and power long waves of economic growth. John Maynard Keynes saw in crises the opportunity for government to intervene in new ways to stimulate consumption and demand which would ultimately spur investment and lead the way to recovery. Or as contemporary Stanford economist Paul Romer is fond of saying, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” He’s right.
I, too, see this crisis and the ones that have come before it – the Great Depression of the 1930s which gave rise to the long-boom of the 20th century; the Long Depression of the 1870s which paved the way for the industrial era – as tremendous, indeed unprecedented, opportunities to reexamine and to “reset” the very means by which we live, work, and enjoy our lives. In THE GREAT RESET, I explain how “resets” work, detail the core actions needed to spur recovery; and paint a picture of what our economy, society and geography will look like – of how we will work and live – after the crises ends.
For the reset to be effective and successful, it must go far beyond companies, business models, new innovations, even public policies. It must be a wholesale reset – a reset of our very way of life. The Long Depression transformed America from a largely rural country dotted with trading centers and mill towns to a country of giant industrial cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago which concentrated production, generated a great wave of innovation and created a whole new geography of and growth. The Great Depression of the 1930s was solved not simply by higher levels of New Deal spending or even by mobilization for World War II, but by the mass suburbanization of the 1950s and beyond, which spurred demand for the automobiles, appliances and consumer goods streaming off the assembly lines. My goal is to show how our last economic landscape – that of suburbanization, Sunbelt growth and a run-away housing bubble — sowed the seeds of the current crisis. And in doing so, I hope to illustrate the demographic trends and economic shifts – the great migration of people and business to core cities, smart suburbs and the great mega-regions of our time – that will hold the key to revitalizing the American and global economies once more.