What’s behind the startling decline in publicly traded U.S. firms?

An underreported story of the last two decades is the sharp decline in the number of publicly traded U.S. firms. In 1996, U.S. stock markets boasted 7,322 listed firms. By 2015, however, that number had dropped by more than half, to 3,200. If we adjust for population, the U.S. had 2.2 public firms per hundred thousand people in 1975, but …

Are the pessimists right about America’s slow-growth future?

In his big new book on the history and future of innovation, Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon argues that information technology is a spent force. Computers and networks just aren’t as powerful as previous inventions, he argues, and the U.S. should expect another 25 years of relative stagnation. He thinks productivity growth up to 2040 will be just half our …

Remember Peak Oil?

During the “energy crisis” of 2006, we wrote the following Wall Street Journal commentary, hoping to calm fears of “peak oil” and other nonsense that often accompanies big price swings. We said oil prices likely would recede. We said vast stores of oil, especially in shale, were about to be found and extracted. We said alternative energy schemes in part justified by high …