Landon Thomas, Jr., At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks, New York Times, March 28, 2017

On Tuesday, BlackRock laid out an ambitious plan to consolidate a large number of actively managed mutual funds with peers that rely more on algorithms and models to pick stocks. …

Some $30 billion in assets (about 11 percent of active equity funds) will be targeted, with $6 billion rebranded BlackRock Advantage funds. These funds focus on quantitative and other strategies that adopt a more rules-based approach to investing.

“The democratization of information has made it much harder for active management,” Mr. Fink said in an interview. “We have to change the ecosystem — that means relying more on big data, artificial intelligence, factors and models within quant and traditional investment strategies.”

N. Gregory Mankiw, What the President Could Learn From Professional Economists, New York Times, March 10, 2017

A second cause of slower economic growth is the decline in productivity growth, which has occurred not just in the United States but in most advanced economies. The reason for this slowdown is not fully understood, but I recently heard one explanation at a seminar given by the Stanford University economist Charles I. Jones.

According to a recent paper by Mr. Jones and three co-authors, the number of Americans engaged in research has increased more than twentyfold since the 1930s, yet there has been no similar explosion in productivity growth. Their interpretation is that big ideas are just getting harder to find. Unfortunately, there is no sign that this is about to change.