New technologies often lead to economic booms, sometimes to great economic booms. Most of us can remember the technology or internet boom of the 1990s which transformed our lives and made vast fortunes for those who understood the new technology. Yet that is only one of several economic booms that have transformed the world over the past few centuries.
There is a strong possibility that the next great economic boom will be touched off by low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) or cold fusion. By greatly reducing the cost of energy and eliminating the need to haul and store fuel LENR will reduce the costs of manufacturing and transportation. That will reduce costs and give people more money to spend elsewhere. Just as computers made companies more efficient and increased their profitability.
Those companies that successfully commercialize LENR will generate vast profits just as those companies that successfully commercialized computers, smartphones, the internet and software generated vast fortunes. Such fortunes are among the most notable features of economic booms.
So what will the cold fusion boom look like and what will its effects be? The best way to determine that is to take a look at some of the economic booms of the past. There have been several identifiable economic booms over the past three hundred years. Some of the most notable are:
- The first Industrial Revolution which was created by the invention of weaving technology and the steam engine. This created a huge economic boom in North America by increasing the demand for cotton and other commodities such as grain.
- The transportation revolution of the mid-19th Century created by the invention of the steamship and the railroad. This created a notable economic boom in Great Britain and the United States which spawned the first corporations and the modern stock market. This boom also created a massive demand for minerals and other raw materials and fueled colonial and commercial expansion around the world.
- The automobile revolution of the early 20th Century which spawned a massive increase in industrial production. Among other things this boom gave us the oil industry and consumer finance. It greatly accelerated the development of construction by increasing the need for roads.
- The electronics and consumer products boom which started in the 1920s stalled in the Depression and World War II and exploded again in the 1950s. These booms essentially brought modern technology into everyday life and transformed average people into consumers. One byproduct of these booms was popular entertainment. Another greatly increased demand for electricity to power all the gadgets people put in their homes.
- The technology boom of the 1980s and 90s which was created by the widespread adoption of computers and the internet. One side effect of this is the democratization of information which can no longer be monopolized by big business and big government. Another is the shift in finance that occurred when stock and commodities markets moved onto electronic trading platforms.
The LENR boom is liable to share the characteristics of these earlier booms. One characteristic these booms share is to create big new fortunes in the hands of those who understand the new technology. Examples of this include Bill Gates who understood the importance of computer software and Henry Ford who figured out how to mass produce automobiles. Another example would be Andrew Carnegie who became a billionaire by manufacturing steel a raw material the railroads needed vast amounts of. Before he went into the steel business Carnegie was a railroad executive.
Another characteristic of technology based booms is to democratize or widely disperse what was formerly in the hands of the few or the wealthy. Before trains and steam ships only the very rich could afford to travel most people rarely left home. Before the automobile only those rich enough to feed a horse or team could afford personal transportation. Before e-books only the very rich could afford a large library, today anybody can have one. Before the internet only the wealthy or those who lived in certain cities could trade stocks now anybody with a bank account and an internet connection can trade stocks.
This democratization is one of the things that drive the boom and economic expansion. The appearance of trains and steamships created a massive demand for coal and steel. The use of automobiles increased the demand for oil which increased oil production. It also increased the demand for steel and the raw materials that metal is made from. The technology revolution increased the demand for electricity to run the internet and raw materials such as copper.
Based on these conclusions the LENR boom will create massive new fortunes probably among those who figure out how to commercialize cold fusion. It will also democratize energy production. Everybody will have the capacity to be his or her own power company. No longer will large generators or power grid connections be needed to run large scale industrial operations or mines. Average people might be able to generate vast amounts of electricity or heat.
There is of course a dark side to an economic boom they inevitably lead to economic busts. For every person who gets rich there are several failed entrepreneurs. Only a few enterprises will survive. There were dozens of auto manufacturers in the United States in the early 1900s only a handful survived. Such busts often cause terrible hardship to investors and average people. Just look at the havoc wrecked in the United States by the collage of the mortgage bubble in 2008.
Like earlier booms the LENR boom will create booms in other areas. The railroad and automobile booms led to real estate booms and a massive amount of real estate speculation. There were huge real estate booms in Florida, California and the Chicago area during the 1920s. The automobile boom also led to a massive boom in oil exploration and production in the United States especially in California and Texas. The consumer products boom of the 1920s fueled a massive stock market boom. A similar boom occurred in the 1960s because of the effects of new technologies such as television and plastics.
More recently the tech and internet booms fueled the early 21st Century mortgage bubble in the United States and a stock market bubble. The technology boom has also fueled an increased demand for energy particularly oil and natural gas and minerals such as copper.
LENR will probably increase the demand for raw materials because it will give people more money to buy with. If it cuts manufacturing costs, manufacturing will increase and with it demand for raw materials. Since people would presumably have more disposable income because of reduced energy costs they would presumably have extra cash to buy consumer goods with. Another side effect from LENR would be decreased materials costs so producers would have to produce more to make money. Freeport McMoRan would have to mine more copper to make money. Exxon-Mobil will have to pump more oil (if there is a demand for it).
Obviously all this will lead to a bull market in stocks that will dwarf that in the 1990s. Shares especially of LENR companies and consumer products firms will go through the roof. Prices of some commodities such as wheat may increase because of increased demand. Eventually the boom will collapse but that is the nature of capitalism.
Cold fusion has the potential to create one of the greatest economic booms in history and change the life of everybody on the planet in the process. So the US Defense Intelligence Agency is right, LENR is a disruptive technology, one that could disrupt the entire global economy for better or worse.