Wired Magazine Interview with Eric Janszen

Eric Janszen's new book will discuss the painful structural changes he says are coming to the U.S. economy.

As the mortgage and financial crisis continues to notch more victims, the question on many economists' minds is not whether a recession will happen, but how deep it will get and how long it will last. But one prominent voice thinks the high-flying finance industry isn't going to bounce back -- and that we'll need to look elsewhere to set the U.S. economy back on firm footing.

In a widely discussed Harper's article in February, "The Next Bubble: Priming the Markets for Tomorrow's Crash," Janszen argued that clean tech is the only sector that could create enough "fictitious value" to replace the losses from the housing bubble, if only temporarily.

Neither a clean-tech skeptic nor a booster, he wrote, "Given the current state of our economy, the only thing worse than a new bubble would be its absence."

Wired.com recently spoke with Janszen to discuss the state of the economy, his plan to pay for alternative energy with a tariff on oil, and how running fiber to your home is good energy policy.

Wired: Though you focus on clean tech, you are making a broader argument about the U.S. economy and its reliance on the finance industry. How is the economy now bubble-based?

Eric Janszen: The elevator pitch is that we've gone through a series of asset-price inflations that started back in 1995. What really kicked the whole series off were some changes that the Feds made to the U.S. banking system to get us out of the recession that we were in during the early 1990s. That facilitated the beginnings of a growth in credit that supported the two bubbles: internet and real estate. more...