Friday, January 1, 2021

Schumpeterian competition in wind turbine production

 Good riddance to 2020. An article in today's New York Times stood out for me as a hopeful story to start out the new year: "A Monster Wind Turbine is Upending an Industry". 

The monster in question is General Electric's, produced in a bid to challenge the dominance of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in offshore wind turbines. It is 260m high and the blades are 220m in diameter. Some test versions, pictured below, are on land along the harbour at Rotterdam.

Joseph Schumpeter claimed that understanding the importance of such dynamic competition was critical in understanding how the capitalist system generates new processes and products, something about which the traditional static models have nothing to say. With rare exceptions, the introductory textbooks' discussion of oligopoly focuses on price competition.

While the tone of Schumpeter's discussion was optimistic understandable given that he was writing in the 1940s – it's now by no means clear that monopolies will be relatively short lived in a process of 'creative destruction', as the Big Tech monopolies of today look quite well entrenched. As well, it's now also abundantly clear that oligopolies can compete to produce better useful processes and products as well as harmful ones. (We could have done without the technology to extract bitumen from Alberta's tar sands – excuse me, "oil sands" is the politically correct terminology. The same goes with the development of 'forever chemicals' like PFOA, PFOS that contaminate the bodies of virtually everyone on the planet. And so on.)

But for today, I'm focusing on the positive. At last, it seems that the tide is turning against the fossil fuel industry.

The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook and The Macroeconomics Anti-Textbook: updates

 I delivered the (extensively) revised edition of the Microeconomics Anti-Textbook to the editors at Zed/Bloomsbury in late November. I'm hoping that it will be in print by about the middle of the year, but the editors have not yet given me a timeline.

Tony Myatt, who has been working on the Macroeconomics companion tells me that he is now working on the last chapter so, all going well, it will appear in 2021 too.