What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

America's Fragile Recovery

March 20, 2011, 2:17 PM

Recently I wrote about a McKinsey Global Institute study that found the American economy is likely to stay slow in the long term as a larger percentage of its population leaves the workforce and retires. While the economy has begun growing again and the unemployment rate has finally come down below 9%, the American economy’s short-term prospects also aren’t very good.

Labor force participation—the percent of Americans 16 and over who are working—which passed 67% in the mid-90s, has dropped to nearly 64%. That’s the lowest level since 1984, before large numbers of women had entered the workforce. That’s partly because of the increasingly large portion of the population that has retired, and partly because the economy simply hasn't been adding enough jobs to keep up with growth in the working age population. On average economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal don't think the country will return to full employment until 2015, and expect the unemployment rate to be 7.7% when President Obama comes up for reelection in 2012. That would be a significant improvement, but still the highest rate since Ford lost to Carter in 1976.

As Robert Reich points out, the fragile economy is suffering new shocks. Unrest in the Middle East—particularly now in Libya and Bahrain—helped oil prices reach a 29-month high earlier this month. Bad harvests combined with a long-term rise in demand have driven food prices up. The devastating earthquake in Japan—the world’s third largest economy—sent the Nikkei tumbling more than 10% in a week. All these things are likely to slow the global economy, and have a huge impact on the millions of Americans who are already struggling.

They are also likely to exacerbate our very real fiscal problems. But, as I wrote recently, while we can’t continue to spend more than we earn for that much longer, we aren’t actually on the verge of bankruptcy, and now may not be the time to cut government programs or slash employee salaries. Instead, we may need more stimulus, either in the form of targeted tax breaks or greater spending, because our debt problem—and every other problem—will be much more serious if the recovery stalls.

Photo credit: Albert Duce


America's Fragile Recovery

Newsletter: Share: