Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism – Slightly off target

The great Mariana Mazzucato’s creativity is stifled by the ‘moonshot’ analogy

Astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, the crew of the lunar module Apollo 11, stand in front of a test module before their historic flight. Photograph: MPI/Getty

Astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, the crew of the lunar module Apollo 11, stand in front of a test module before their historic flight. Photograph: MPI/Getty

One of the more rueful passages in Barack Obama’s volume of presidential memoirs is a controversy that attracted little attention outside of the US. The Obama administration supported the solar and wind sector during the financial crisis. Solyndra, a solar panel company, received a $535 million loan. Their product became uncompetitive, the company failed and the loan was lost. Allegations of severe mismanagement were made. Recriminations were loud and politically damaging.

Obama writes that he “couldn’t help but fume ... at how Solyndra’s failure stood to overshadow the Recovery Act’s remarkable success in galvanising the renewable energy sector”. The controversy overshadowed the development of the renewable energy sector in what the memoir describes as a “clean energy moonshot”.

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