The most obvious is war. The Accidental War caused great property damage, and wiped out many major financial centers. The Weather Wars were responsible for widespread famine. And sabotage by guerillas and destruction by terrorists were further brakes on progress.
The technology centers of Silicon Valley in California and Tokyo in Japan were both severely disrupted by natural disasters less than five years apart.
Often overlooked is the brain drain into orbit. In the early days of space exploitation, corporations and governments took only the best and brightest to man their orbital platforms. First they were distracted solving the problems of colonizing a new environment, then most of them sold out and remained off-world after the Orbital Rebellion.
Sometimes it's just not practical to keep advancing technology -- a datacoin could be smaller, but then you'd have to handle it with tweezers.
Perhaps the most important reason is that the information explosion continued at an accelerating pace. More and more scientific articles were published, making it increasingly difficult for anyone to keep track of anything. Computer technologies like hypertext helped somewhat, but were offset by the increased ease of generating new information. More and more, scientists were duplicating research they didn't know had been done elsewhere, perhaps in a different specialty.
Information overload is still a problem, but new technologies like cyberfacing, which lets people interface directly to data, could be a solution. Renaissance men like Leonardo da Vinci will never be possible again, but someone tapping the full power of the Net could come close.
David Dunham Page | Interface