One of today’s most creative, insightful, and productive scholars (it does her an injustice to label her simply as an “economic historian” or even as an “economist”), Deirdre McCloskey , spoke yesterday at George Mason University. As always, listening to Deirdre was a thrilling intellectual adventure. She (quite justifiably) plugged her two latest books. (Here  and here .)
Among the many things I learned is that, until the industrial revolution, global per-capita income averaged about $3 per day (presumably in 2010 dollars). Today it averages about $30 per day: a ten-fold increase in access to goods and services. In the U.S., daily per-capita income is now about $125 per day (and, adjusting for improvements in quality, says Deirdre, closer to $300 per day).
Deirdre also said that she prefers the term “innovation economy” to “capitalism.” The reason is that accumulation of capital – either physical or human or both – is not the chief cause of the high standard of living in any ‘capitalist’ economy. The chief cause, instead, is innovation – creative minds free to innovate. For example .
A very Julian-Simonesque  point!
In order to meet my Principles of Microeconomics class last night I had to leave Deirdre’s talk just after the Q&A began, so I’m sure that I missed many more insights.