The forces that shape economic growth: The size of markets. Large markets make economies of scale possible and thus encourage saving, investing, and the development of new products. The availability of information and the literacy of the population. The spread of information gives people access to scientific and technical ideas, products, and productive farming, manufacturing, and marketing techniques. Natural resources. These seem like primary requirements but are not: they depend on markets for their commercial value. Surplus capital -- savings -- that can be used as investment. Basic economic rights such as guarantees of property and contracts. Entrepreneurialism, creativity, and the human drive for self-improvement. Technology and invention. While commonly seen as primary (or even the only) requirements for growth, these are strongly dependent on other factors.
Formerly the financial editor of BusinessWeek, Jeffrey Madrick is a monthly columnist for the New York Times Economic Scene and a frequent essayist for the New York Review of Books. A contributor of opinion pieces to the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he has also appeared as a guest on CNN, CNBC, NPR, and PBS's Charlie Rose Show.