[Mr. Palmisano is the chairman and CEO of IBM]
Not all stimulus is created equal.
As a new American administration takes office during the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, everyone is understandably fixated on the present emergency -- on what went wrong and how to fix it. There is a growing feeling of desperation, the idea that we must do something -- anything -- to get the world's economic juices flowing again.
Let me offer a different point of view: We shouldn't undertake projects simply for the sake of creating economic activity. Rather than just stimulate, we should transform....
...Smarter infrastructure is by far our best path to creating new jobs and stimulating growth. We at IBM were asked to map this out by President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, and our research shows that a $30 billion stimulus investment in just three areas -- smart grids, health-care IT and broadband -- could yield almost one million new jobs within one year. That's possible because these kinds of infrastructure have significantly greater economic and societal multiplier effects than traditional infrastructure like bridges and highways.
Our power grids are the largest remaining artifact of the Industrial Age, and they're due for a smart upgrade. Using broadband data streams, digital sensors and advanced analytics, demand can be understood in real time. Utilities can source and manage power more intelligently, helping to bring renewable sources onto the grid. And consumers could understand the variable cost of power and alter their behavior accordingly. A smarter utility network could also handle the growing demand for hybrid and electric cars. Today's utility grid would struggle to manage this burden.
A $10 billion per year smart grid stimulus investment could yield almost a quarter of a million jobs digitizing the grid and in related industries, such as alternative energy and automotive. This investment will enable new forms of industrial innovation by creating exportable skills, resources and technology....MORE