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Tag Archives: populism

Italy’s new political crisis

Is Italy going to have elections in the fall? Or will it have a new government, supported by a coalition of the populists and the mainstream left, bringing to an end the coalition of the populist left and the populist right which has led the country in the last few months? Jacopo Barigazzi on Politico provides a good summary of a political crisis which is rather peculiar even by Italian standards: For almost 14 months, Salvini has been saying that this government will...

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Boris Johnson- any reason for optimism?

The new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is considered a dream politician by some conservatives, and a nightmare by many more. Boris is regarded as a messy organizer, a man affected by attention-deficit disorder, a beloved but not particularly effective mayor of London, an opportunist who chooses to be anti-EU not because of deep convictions but simply to prop his career up, and a demagogue. He is considered by many a clown, and he certainly did all he could to...

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The real wage myth

After the 2016 election, several pundits suggested that the Trump victory reflected frustration with stagnant real wages. Unfortunately, this argument is based on a misconception. The average hourly earnings series at the FRED data site only goes back 12 years, but real wages were doing well before the 2016 election: BTW, in nominal terms, average hourly earnings are currently $27.77/hour. FRED does have a much longer series for average wages earned by production and...

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Sebastian Edwards on MMT and Latin American populism

Sebastian Edwards is perhaps the world’s leading expert on populist policies in Latin America. He has an excellent new paper discussing the lessons of Latin American populism for the debate over MMT. Here’s the abstract: According to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) it is possible to use expansive monetary policy – money creation by the central bank (i.e. the Federal Reserve) – to finance large fiscal deficits that will ensure full employment and good jobs for everyone,...

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What’s Been Lost: The Value of Being Reasonable

Just about the only thing the virulent proponents of various extremes can agree on is that anyone attempting to be reasonable is a mortal threat that must be neutralized or destroyed. Dating back to the era of Benjamin Franklin, a willingness to hear another point of view and another set of solutions–i.e. being reasonable–was the hallmark of political progress. The value of being reasonable has been lost, and I think there are three sources of this erosion: 1. Though few...

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The European elite is playing a dangerous game

The Financial Times describes the global rise of populism: In an age of rising populism, the Mexican president, though, is not alone in his suspicion of policymakers. US President Donald Trump prefers to follow his gut, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has ridiculed western-educated economists and piled pressure on the reserve bank, while UK cabinet minister Michael Gove stated bluntly that people “have had enough” of experts. The new Italian government might be...

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The internal contradictions of liberalism and illiberalism

A number of intellectuals have pointed to an internal contradiction within liberalism. Does tolerance for others include tolerating illiberal people? I wonder if there is an analogous contradiction within illiberalism, an ideology that (in the West) is often driven by a dislike of illiberal cultures. The first time I recall reading about xenophobic populism in Europe was when the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn criticized Muslim immigrants for not sharing the liberal...

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Liberal Democracy and Its Reinventors

Reinventing “liberal democracy” seems a rather popular activity these days. There is a widespread presumption that voters are globally rejecting globalisation and freer markets. Most explanations of the rise of so-called “populism” tend to understand it as a homogeneous phenomenon all through the West, and thus the result of homogenous demands on the part of voters. “Liberal democracy” (or liberalism, or capitalism, all words that in this context are used as a...

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Gratis Is Not Great

Almost every psychologically normal human is delighted to here about products everyone can enjoy free of charge.  “The school are free!”  “Health care is free!”  “Lunch is free!” According to basic welfare economics, however, gratis goods are almost automatically inefficient.  Unless the marginal social cost of the product miraculously happens to be zero, setting a price of zero leads to socially wasteful behavior. So what makes “free” so beloved?  The simplest...

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Could Germany Fracture?

Rising political and social discord that is generally being attributed to “populism” may actually be the re-emergence of ancient geographic and cultural fault lines. An often-overlooked manifestation of this might be the nation-state of Germany, a possibility fleshed out by longtime correspondent Mark G. It’s both convenient and expedient for politicos to blame “populism” for the fracturing of the status quo. Given the unsavory undertones of ethnic/religious bias of...

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