The whole world’s economy — except for China for a decade or two — is spinning like a vast mid-oceanic gyre — getting nowhere slowly but very widely and very powerfully. The world is settling down into a condition of least effort according to the basic laws o physics — a stabilised economy maybe a little busier than it is now but maybe a little less.
Unless advanced governments can find a way of boosting energy inputs and using them in some way to rejuvenate economic growth, or discovering a new tranche of consumer products which will enable Europe, America and Japan to get moving again, the gyre will continue.
Hundreds of economists never did discover how America could dig itself out of the Great Depression (1929 to 1939) and it took a war to do it. Today we have hundreds of thousands of economists trying to discover how Europe, America and Japan can dig themselves out of the Second Great Depression (2007 to 2016) and still not succeeding.
We will be continuing to innovate profusely and, as a consequence, to improve industrial methods immensely. It will be in the non-consumerist sphere — health, education and leisurely enjoyment of the natural environment — activities not measurable by crude GDP figures — that the biggest strides can be made in a new era. We’ll then be able to forget about our present gyre as a metaphor.