What new products will come out of this recession?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The pratically universal question during a recession is: which industry(ies) will grow us out of this one? Well, who knows, maybe it will be a surge in iTie production. From the LA Times:

They might never get as big as chocolate-chip cookies, which supposedly were invented during the Great Depression, but most of these inventions came about because the people behind them were laid off during this economic downturn.
And the top 3 of the list of 9 recession-inventions:
* The iTie. Joe Sale of Tampa, Fla., invented it after he was laid off from his sales job. It holds iPods, credit cards and bills in a pocket in the back of the tie. It can also be attached to your shirt so it doesn't whip around in the wind.
Dream to Destiny kit. After getting out of the real estate market, Phoenix housewife Dina Beauvais created a DVD and booklet instructing people on how to achieve their dreams. The kit also comes with a pendant.
* Meals to Go. After years of packing lunches for her kids, Beauvais also invented an airtight, watertight container for meals that maintains temperature with hot and cold packs.
There are some positives that can come out of recessions, like homemade cooking (see an older Chicago Sun Times article on cooking during the Great Depression). And likewise, an NBER paper by Michael Burda and Daniel S. Hamermesh argues that people spend their free time (forced time off from work, unemployment) not in leisure activities, but in productive non-market activities:
In areas where unemployment has suddenly risen, however, the average resident spends less time in market work, but offsets most of this decline by an increase in time spent in household production rather than leisure or personal maintenance.
This study is consistent with the LA Time story: people generally do not substitute their hours from work into leisure, rather into production activities that mostly go unmeasured by GDP....interesting. Perhaps eventually some of the production will cease to be unmeasured, with inventions of sorts making their way onto the broader markets.

Rebecca Wilder


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