Mr Gordon is right that the second industrial revolution involved never-to-be-repeated changes.
But that does not mean that driverless cars count for nothing.
Messrs Erixon and Weigel are also right to worry about the West’s dismal recent record in producing new companies.
But many old firms are not run by bureaucrats and have reinvented themselves many times over: General Electric must be on at least its ninth life.
And the impact of giant new firms born in the past 20 years such as Uber, Google and Facebook should not be underestimated: they have all the Schumpeterian characteristics the authors admire.
On the pessimists’ side the strongest argument relies not on closely watching corporate and investor behaviour but rather on macro-level statistics on productivity.
The figures from recent years are truly dismal.
Karim Foda, of the Brookings Institution, calculates that labour productivity in the rich world is growing at its slowest rate since 1950.
Total factor productivity (which tries to measure innovation) has grown at just 0.1% in advanced economies since 2004, well below its historical average.
Optimists have two retorts.
The first is that there must be something wrong with the figures.
One possibility is that they fail to count the huge consumer surplus given away free of charge on the internet.
But this is unconvincing.
The official figures may well be understating the impact of the internet revolution, just as they downplayed the impact of electricity and cars in the past, but they are not understating it enough to explain the recent decline in productivity growth.
Another, second line of argument—that the productivity revolution has only just begun—is more persuasive.
Over the past decade many IT companiesmay have focused on things that were more “fun than fundamental” in Paul Krugman’s phrase.
But Silicon Valley’s best companies are certainly focusing on things that change the material world.
Uberand Airbnb are bringing dramatic improvements to two large industries that have been more or less stuck for decades.
Morgan Stanley estimates that driverless cars could result in $507 billion a year of productivity gains in America, mainly from people being able to stare at their laptops instead of at the road.
The real question is not whether the IT revolution has run out of steam or whether creative destruction is grinding to a halt.
In fact, the IT revolution is probably gathering pace and Google and Amazon are two of the most innovative firms to emerge in the past 50 years.
Rather it is whether the new economy can counteract the forces ranged against it: ageing populations; a political class responding to populism by restricting trade and by over-regulating business; and education systems that in many places are failing.
The big danger is that, while optimists and pessimists battle it out, the world becomes ever more divided between islands of high productivity surrounded by a vast ocean of stagnation.
1.industrial revolution 工业革命
例句:The industrial revolution modified the whole structure of English society.
2.run out of 用完；耗尽
例句:They have run out of ideas.
3.focused on 专注于
例句:Every eye at the conference was focused on the rostrum.
4.give away 放弃；泄露
例句:He was giving his collection away for nothing