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Apple Challenges Exxon: Good News For Gaia

The news that Apple is challenging ExxonMobile for the capitalist crown — the most valuable company in the world as measured by stock market capitalization — shows that despite all the green gloom, capitalist progress is good news for Gaia.

Stock values fluctuate, and Apple’s moment may be fleeting, but the fundamental direction of the global economy is away from stuff and toward ideas.  The value of Apple has very little to do with the raw materials an Apple gadget uses.  It has everything to do with design, marketing, and the ability of those attractive little gadgets to process information.

There is no environmental limit to economic growth.  Economic growth can and will continue indefinitely as we shift from heavy footprint industries to the information economy.

As an anti-capitalist movement, greens are doomed.  But green entrepreneurs who want to build a new, gaia-friendly economy are pushing on an open door.

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  • stephen b

    The effort to hand wave away the “raw materials” seems a little disingenuous. Granted, ideas and energy to transform them into something valuable is key. But until lead can be turned into gold with no cost in energy, we will still need Exxon and their like.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @stephen b: i didn’t say they were disappearing. But extracting, transporting and manufacturing raw materials is steadily becoming less important to the future of the economy.

  • Michael Bender

    I agree with WRM but I fear it is not a good thing in the long run.

    Perhaps that could be the subject of a future post?

  • Mike Mc

    Is it that the global economy is becoming more of an ‘idea economy’ over an industrial economy or, conversely, is it that the idea economy is just the new exciting ‘wing’ of the whole global economy and thus generating investor buzz in its emergence? I actually hope you are correct.

  • Corlyss

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the value Apple’s stock is unrelated the value of raw materials and Apple’s access to them. They come from China. Apple’s relationship to its Chinese suppliers has come under a lot of scrutiny since their Chinese workers started killing themselves over their hopeless working conditions. Apple’s dominance of the market owes a lot to innovation, true, but some at least to cheap labor and cheap raw materials. Kudos to Apple for knowing where to produce.

  • Toni

    “But extracting, transporting and manufacturing raw materials is steadily becoming less important to the future of the economy.”

    Gasoline and jet fuel will cease being not just important but crucial to the US economy when the internal combustion engine is replaced. Exxon can keep its market cap up only by providing those fuels to the US and other customers.

    That is, I believe it’s a bit short-sighted to celebrate the triumph of ideas over materials when the US economy can’t function without those materials. How would Apple transport its cool gadget without Exxon’s fuel, or if the fuel price soared?

    Better hope the greens don’t win this one anytime soon.

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