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Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1843763314
ISBN-10: 1843763311
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Editorial Reviews

Review

It [this book] is one of the most interesting histories of technology, if not the most informative, because it dwells on the dynamics of the technology/social/economic systems itself. . . Most tomes with theoretical goals like this are horribly dry, dense, wordy, and well. . .boring. This book is not. Perez writes with vigor, and grace, not taking an extra unneeded word, and not repeating herself. . . like a great many other seminal books, it is easily read by anyone truly interesting in how technology works. --Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine

This book should be required reading in any senior - or graduate-level course on development economics, management of technology, S&T policy analysis and development, and related subjects. It will be of interest to policy analysts and developers, financial analysts, and others concerned with national, regional, local and global systems of innovation. Perez provides a fresh analysis of technological, financial and social booms and busts in an engaging and refreshing way. The book weaves a compelling new fabric of observation and theory, and shows that something can be done to learn from, anticipate, and deal constructively with, the tribulations of inter-linked technological, economic and social change. It does so concisely and in an idiom that bridges abstract economic theory with tangible human history and experience. If it is brought to their attention - as it should be - this compact book will give hope to those scholars, students and policy analysts who wonder what really happened in the cybertechnolgy/internet
gold-rush prior to 2001 and what could possibly lie ahead. --Morley Lipsett, Science and Public Policy

Carlota Perez s thoughtful book, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, does an excellent job of showing the interplay between innovation and capital markets. Her theory is based on Schumpeterian economics - change is more important than equilibrium - and substantial empirical data. Her frame work, if accurate, has direct implications for our economy today. --Michael J. Mauboussin, The Consilient Observer

From the Inside Flap

‘. . . Dr Perez has also provided a road map to relevance both for scholars and investors who, having survive the Great Bubble of 1999–2000, must needs concern themselves with what happens next.’ – William Janeway, Vice Chairman, Warburg Pincus, US and Founder, Cambridge [University] Endowment for Research in Finance, UK

‘It was Carlota Perez in the early 1980s, who designated the major changes in technology systems, such as mechanization, electrification or computerization, as "changes of techno-economic paradigm" a designation which has since been widely adopted. In this book she offers many new insights into these complex processes of social, economic and technological change. She traces the interactions between that part of the economy commonly known as "financial capital" and the evolution of technologies. Although this was an important aspect of Schumpeter’s original work, it has been neglected by his followers, so that the book fills an important gap in the literature on business cycles and innovations. I most strongly commend it to all those attempting to understand the past and future evolution of technology and the economy.’ – Christopher Freeman, SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex, UK and Maastricht University, The Netherlands

‘Before I read this book I thought that the history of technology was – to borrow Churchill’s phrase – merely "one damned thing after another". Not so. Carlota Perez shows us that historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity, and that economies react to them in predictable phases. Her argument provides much needed perspective not just on history, but on our own times. And especially on our own information revolution.’ – W. Brian Arthur, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico

‘This is a smashing book. It informs us that the emphasis on finance that marked the excesses of the 1990s has historically occurred with each great wave of new technologies, only to later shift the focus back to production. Fascinating. May the shift happen again soon.’ – Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University, US --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Edward Elgar Pub (April 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843763311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843763314
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Leonard J. Wilson on September 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital by Carlota Perez describes the interaction between the technical innovation and long-term economic cycles. Her book covers many of the same topics as The Innovators Dilemma (Clayton Christensen, Harvard) and Only the Paranoid Survive (Andy Grove, Intel). Professor Perez approaches the subject as an academic economist (University of Sussex, UK), using the early 20th century work of Nikolai Kondratiev on long economic cycles (40-50 years) as a point of departure, whereas Christensen and Grove focus primarily on the near-term (2-5 years) implications of innovation on the individual firm. Her main points are summarized below.

The world has experienced five major technical-economic cycles:

(1) 1771 - , The First Industrial Revolution in Britain, based on mechanization of the cotton industry.

(2) 1829 - , The Age of Steam and Railways

(3) 1875 - , The Age of Steel and Electricity

(4) 1908 - , The Age of Oil, the Automobile, and Mass Production

(5) 1971 - , The Age of Information and Telecommunications

The starting dates are all approximate and were selected based on some catalytic event or "Big Bang", such as the invention of Intel's first microprocessor in 1971. (Note to a scientist friend: I believe that Prof Perez chose the above dates and events based on their economic impact rather than their scientific impact. Thus, the 5th age could be dated from the invention of the vacuum tube or the radio but these events had less economic impact than the microprocessor. Also, these cycles certainly overlapped, with a new age gathering momentum as its predecessor lost it. Thus, the vacuum tube and radio were key predecessor events leading to the 5th age.
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Format: Paperback
I think I've read almost all the books written on the long-term dynamics of technology. Most of them are quite predictable -- a long list of important inventions. This book by Carlota Perez is different. It is one of the most interesting histories of technology, if not the most informative, because it dwells on the dynamics of the technology/social/economic system itself. It takes a decided cybernetic view of technology by demonstrating that technology is a very large system that progresses through "paradigms." And like paradigms in science or the humanities, paradigms in technology exhibit step-like bursts of normal advancement punctuated by revolutionary change. This long cycle of ordinary improvement capped by rapid cataclysmic change and marked by the inevitable bubble phase and then productive recovery has marked all cycles of technology in the last two hundred years. That's Perez's thesis, and the book is very thorough in making a case for this.

Most tomes with theoretical goals like this are horribly dry, dense, wordy, and well... boring. This book is not. Perez writes with amazing vigor, and grace, not taking an extra unneeded word, and not repeating herself.

I tend to shy away from theories that depend on believing in long cycles or recurring forces, but in this case Perez has persuaded me that this cycle in technology is real. I am delighted by this surprise. According to theory laid in out TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTIONS we, in 2005, are in the last throes of a technological bubble and just preceding the next period of productive improvement and profit from the disruptive technologies in the 1990s. In other words, instead of the bubble signaling the demise of these recent technologies, it's really saying, we ain't seen nothing yet.
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This book is a must-read. As someone who has been involved with computer/networking technology for over 30 years and high-tech finance for more than 20, I'm confident that there is nothing that surpasses this work in capturing the times in which we live. This book is simply a modern classic.

With this book in hand you will find yourself saying, "How could anyone have missed the Internet 'crash' of 2000?" Of course it had to happen. Then you will be asking yourself, "When will we get past the frenzied hype about these technologies so we can finally make all this really useful?" Just as Perez has been asking.

Throughout the 1980's and 1990's as a Wall Street analyst following technology companies, I regularly polled economists about the impact of computers and networks. At first there was no response. Later, we all began to hear about the "New Economy" and how everything had completely changed in economics. Yes, this was a pretty transparent attempt to rationalize stock valuations that had gone into orbit. In many ways it was even worse than no response at all.

It wasn't until I read Technological Revolutions and began to look into why mainstream economists have had so little to say about technology, that I learned there was a fight over all this in the 1930/40s. Many were involved but Harvard's Joseph Schumpeter who authored Business Cycles in 1938 putting technology at center stage- was among the losers. Future generations of economists rarely delved into Schumpeter's heterodoxy. Fortunately, Perez revives the Schumpeterian tradition with a powerful reinterpretation and combines economics and technology with a clear and convincing voice.

History is a pattern, not an endless repeating cycle but a distinct and discernable pattern.
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