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OCR for page 91

OCR for page 91
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OCR for page 91
Opening Remarks Bill Spencer Chairman Emeritus, International SEMATECH On behalf of the National Academies Dr. Spencer expressed appreciation for the effort that many participants had made to come “from the four corners of the world,” especially those from Taiwan, Japan, and Europe. He described the assembly as “a particularly distinguished set of panels even for the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.” Dr. Spencer said that the economic regions represented at the symposium— the United States, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan—represented over 90 percent of semiconductor manufacturing and sales worldwide. He suggested that these regions had moved into leadership positions because they had adopted the kinds of programs that the symposium would explore. Dr. Spencer said that two weeks earlier the National Academies had held a related seminar on the New Economy and the impact of technology on it. He defined the New Economy in the United States as “the spectacular growth that we have had since 1995, which economists have not been able to explain by looking at the usual economic indicators.” He said that additional growth of GDP amounted to 0.5 to 1 percent per year. Dr. Spencer further noted that a group of approximately 30 leading U.S. economists and technologists were uncertain of the existence of a new economy.1 Nevertheless, the group unanimously agreed that the gains in productivity in computers, communications, and software were due principally to growth in productivity in the semiconductor industry.2 1   For one perspective on growth and the existence of a New Economy see Paul Krugman, “How Fast Can the U.S. Economy Grow?” Harvard Business Review, July 1997. 2   Researchers in the field of economics have classified semiconductors as a general-purpose technology (GPT). Historical periods of great progress and growth have been attributed to the pervasive

OCR for page 91
Dr. Spencer said that it was widely recognized that the semiconductor industry had contributed not only to spectacular growth in that industry but also to economic growth in general. He expressed hope that the lessons shared during the symposium would help that industry maintain high growth and productivity over the decades to come, and then said that he thought the outlook was very good. He then introduced Clark McFadden as chair of the first session.     ness of such technologies. For an excellent discussion and treatment of this topic, which also touches on the semiconductor as a GPT, see Timothy F. Bresnahan and M. Trajtenberg, “General-Purpose Technologies: ‘Engines of Growth’?” Journal of Econometrics, January 1995 pp. 83-108.