Growth is the fundamental driving force of modern economics. Growth can be measured using macroeconomics measures such as GDP, productivity, and stock market indices. Unfortunately many economists focus solely on the metrics and not on the microeconomic behaviors that cause the metrics to change. A classic example of Goodhart’s law at play.
The same rise in GDP can come from building a bridge to nowhere as it can from investing in building new schools. Of course building new schools is more “healthy” in terms of adding true value to the economy and acting as a force multiplier to create more success in the future by educating children more effectively.
China’s policymakers seem to be awakening to this concept, hence China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency mining, their exploitative tutoring industry, algorithmic social media apps, and gig-worker apps. The question remains whether these crackdowns are surface level or truly address the root of unhealthy growth in their economy, but the indication of awareness of healthy growth is an indicator that China’s policymakers are strategically ahead of many countries.
- Pointless infrastructure projects
- Exploitative financial instruments (certain derivatives, things which cause excessive speculation, things detached from value generation)
- Addictive software that reduces productivity and causes mental health issues
- Excessive consumer debt
- Middleman industries (resellers, repackagers, etc.)
- Gatekeeper industries (academic journals, patent trolls, etc.)
- Manufacturing critical goods without planned obsolescence (microchips, medicine, transport, housing, nanotechnology, robotics, etc.)
- Useful infrastructure (utilities, telecom, transport, etc.)
- Investing in the next generation
- Sustainability and preventing existential risk
- Meta success (education, better planning, productivity, etc.)
- Human safety (healthcare, mental health, safer roads, pollution, exercise, diet, etc.)