"Many economists themselves are befuddled as they wander around in a cemetery of dead ideas."
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Not only do ordinary mortals find it hard to answer these questions, so do the experts. Corporate CEOs succeed one another like passengers pushing through a rush-hour turnstile, merging, divesting, kowtowing to the stock market, pursuing core competence one month, synergy the next, the latest management fad a month later. They study the most recent economic forecasts, but many economists themselves are befuddled as they stagger around in a cemetery of dead ideas.
To decode today's seeming chaos we need to cut through the chatter of rear-window economists and business pundits who prattle about "business fundamentals". We need to probe below the obsolete obvious. In these pages, therefore, we will focus on the unexplored "deep fundamentals" on which the so-called fundamentals themselves depend.
Once we do, today's seemingly crazy world looks different, less crazy, and many previously unnoticed opportunities pop out of the shadows. Chaos, it turns out, is only part of the story. And chaos, itself, generates new ideas.
Tomorrow's economy, for example, will open significant business opportunities in fields like hyper-agriculture... customized healthcare... nanoceuticals ... bizarre new sources of energy... streaming payment systems... smart transportation... flash markets... new forms of education... non-lethal weapons... desk-top manufacturing... programmable money... risk management... privacy sensors that tell us when we're being observed -- indeed, sensors of all kinds -- plus a bewildering myriad other goods, services and experiences.
We can't be sure about when these will or will not turn profitable or how they will converge with one another. But understanding the deep fundamentals will reveal the existence, even now, of new needs and previously unidentified industries and sectors -- a huge "synchronization industry", for example, and a "loneliness industry".
To forecast the future of wealth, we also need to look not just at the work we do for money, but at the unpaid work all of us also do as "prosumers". (We'll explain later, but it might shock most people to learn just how much unpaid output we all produce every day.) We'll look, as well, at the invisible "third job" that many of us hold without even knowing it.
Because prosuming is set to explode, the future of the money economy can no longer be understood, let alone forecast, apart from that of the prosumer economy. The two, in fact, are inseparable. Together, they form a "wealth system". And once we understand this -- and the channels by which the two feed one another -- we gain piercing insights into our private lives now and into the future.
Excerpted from Revolutionary Wealth by Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler. Copyright © 2006 by Alvin Toffler. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.