a16z Podcast: The Golden Era of Productivity, Retail, and Supply Chains

This episode of the a16z Podcast takes us on a quick tour through the themes of economics/historian/journalist Marc Levinson‘s books — from An Extraordinary Time, on the end of the postwar boom and the return of the ordinary economy; to The Great A&P, on retail and the struggle for small business in America; all the way through to The Box, on how the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger.

In this hallway-style conversation, Levinson and we (with Sonal Chokshi and Hanne Tidnam) touch on everything from productivity growth & GDP to the “death of retail” — to finally connecting all the dots through logistics, transportation, infrastructure, and more. How are supply chains changing? How does all this, taken together, affect the way we work? And what can — or can’t — policymakers do about it? Perhaps, Levinson argues, a lot of the improvement to our living standards really comes out of “microeconomic improvements at the private sector level rather than as a matter of great policy”. But that’s a bitter pill to swallow for those seeking solace in easy answers from governments, whether at a national or city level. Maybe it’s just a matter of managing our expectations — or resetting our clock for when the new normal begins… and ends.

Want more a16z?

Sign up to get our best articles, latest podcasts, and news on our investments emailed to you.