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Winter 2020 / Volume IV, Number 4
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Financial and Social Capital

Reshoring Production and Restoring American Prosperity: A Practical Policy Agenda

The Covid-19 pandemic has made one thing absolutely clear: China is the workshop of the world. This has significant strategic and geopolitical implications. By playing its initially weak hand to perfec­tion, China transformed its position of dependence into one of dominance during the last several decades. The highly touted inter­dependence of countries in manu­facturing processes…

Savings Glut or Investment Dearth: Rethinking Monetary Policy

Unasked questions are unanswered ones, and a virtue of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth is that it forces attention on why governments ever go to the expense of issuing bonds in the first place. Her critique of the weaknesses of conventional economic policy should receive wide acceptance. Things become more complicated, however…

Utah’s Economic Exceptionalism

On my drive home from work on March 11, 2020, I could tell something was awry. The Utah Jazz game against the Okla­homa City Thunder was set to tip off, but the radio play-by-play announcer seemed confused. Players and officials mingled on the court, but nobody walked to the center circle for tipoff. There was…

Up from Laissez-Faire: Reclaiming Conservative Economics

The market fundamentalists are wrong, regardless of who wins the election. The reemergence of “economic nationalism” does not represent a departure from the Anglo-American conservative tradition; it is a long overdue return to it. It is the doctrinaire lib­ertarians and neoliberals who represent something outside of…

Fault Lines in the Global Economy

Trade Wars Are Strategic Sector Wars

Trade Wars Are Class Wars is an excellent guide to one kind of trade war, the competition for limited global consumer demand, a trade war which is indeed a class war within nations. About the other kind of trade war, the competition among nations for strategic indus­tries, the book has nothing to say. Those seeking guidance on this issue must look elsewhere…

Misunderstanding Investment in the United States and China

America and China have very different views of the role of invest­ment in creating economic growth. In America, we believe in shareholder value. Companies should invest in activities that have high rates of return, which will maximize productivity and growth. The job of government is to get out of the way. China believes the opposite.…

Foxconn’s Rise and Labor’s Fall in Global China

Amid the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing U.S.-China “trade war,” many multinational corporations are reconsidering the opportunities and risks of global supply chains, particularly those based in China. Within China, another long-festering ques­tion is growing more acute on the ground, even though it has faded from international view. Hundreds of millions of Chinese workers, toiling…

Nonliberal Capitalism: The Exception or the Rule?

Branko Milanović’s Capitalism, Alone is not a thick book, but its title and subtitle hint at its ambition. Epigraphs from Aristotle, Plato, Marx, Adam Smith, and Max Weber do the same. Milanović varyingly plays the unsentimental historian, the scientific-minded economist, the policy wonk, the sociologist, and the moralist…

Soft Power

A New Cultural Cold War?

With or without Covid-19, the United States and China were headed for a clash. The economic fallout from the pandemic will merely accelerate developments that had already been set in mo­tion by the rise of China as a strategic and technological rival. Nor does this seem likely to end when Trump leaves office, whether that…

Regime Change with Chinese Characteristics

There is something a little unsettling about a nation that deliberately sets about increasing its “soft power.” Soft power, in the classic 1990 formulation by the Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye, is a nation’s ability to persuade other countries to follow its lead willingly, thanks to the appeal of its culture, political values…

Cultures of Alienation

The Forest for the Trees: Billionaires in the Wilderness

In America over the last fifty years, class divisions have widened in both economic and social terms. Gone are the days when the upper, middle, and working classes attended the same churches and participated in the same civic organizations. Gone too are the days when most American children attended the same schools…

The New Superfluous Men

It may seem quaint to recall the hand-wringing that accompanied the cancellation of the South by Southwest music and film festival back in March 2020. Yet one of the documentaries slated to premier there has nevertheless resonated in a post-Covid world. Focusing on five young men who channel their alienation into offensive internet humor, Alex…

Liberal Fundamentalism: A Sociology of Wokeness

Six years on from the events at Ferguson, Missouri, and the explosion of cultural radicalism that Matthew Yglesias calls the “Great Awokening,” it’s now possible to see the woke movement for what it is: a decentered liberal ideology whose moral innovators impel it toward fundamentalism. The Awokening’s roots are more liberal than socialist. At this…

Online Exclusives

  • New Fault Lines in a Post-Globalized World

    The economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic has upended the global economic system and, just as importantly, cast out the neoliberal orthodoxy that dominated the industrialized world for the past forty years. But Covid-19 has only accelerated a process that was already well underway, impacting trade…

  • How Late Liberalism Undermines Itself

    Just as surely as the French Revolution devoured its children, modern-day liberalism is eating itself, and destroying with it all the norms and institutions that help complex societies to mediate differences. As liberalism grows illiberal, as it turns its back on pluralism, its universalism gives…

  • United We Stand

    Amid the stresses and strains of today’s America, with our national political fabric seemingly at the tearing point, the notion of disunion as our defining idea might seem ripe for embrace. But is this, really, our national experience? The answer matters…

  • Individual and National Freedom: Toward a New Conservative Fusion

    The 2011 hit series The Newsroom begins with a memorable scene. A panel of pundits is asked by a sorority girl to say “in one sentence or less, why America is the greatest country on earth.” The liberal smugly answers, “Diversity and opportunity.” The conservative,…

  • America’s Unhealthy Gerontocracy

    America in its present state of decline increasingly resembles the late Soviet Union, but one of the most unsettling parallels is its unmistakable slide into gerontocracy. From Trump to Biden to Sanders to Pelosi to most of the Senate, one might think that the biblical…

  • Lenin versus the God-Builders

    James D. White’s Red Hamlet: The Life and Ideas of Alexander Bogdanov is the first comprehensive English-language biography of Bogdanov. In it, White alternates chapters of straight biography with dense chapters that rehash Bogdanov’s philosophy and the debates surrounding it. The volume meticulously provides an…

  • After AIPAC

    Bernie Sanders’s announcement that he would not attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac) conference in Washington set off the usual round of recriminations, but it should not have come as a surprise. On his Twitter feed, Sanders described the annual pro-Israel gathering—typically…

  • A Public Baseline: The Australian Health Care Model

    Health care in the United States is riddled with contradictions. The country spends $3.5 trillion a year on health care—more than $10,700 per person and 17.9 percent of GDP—yet 28.5 million Americans are uninsured—nearly 9 percent of the population. America is the richest nation on…

  • The Reformation in Economics: Back to the Future

    It is hard to think of another book of the same genre, less still one recently published, that provides such a clear and accurate guide to what economics should be about and how it should be employed to analyze actual economies…

  • American Restoration: Edmund Burke and the American Constitution

    In mid-July 230 years ago, the people of England received a startling piece of news. They learned that on the previous day, July 14, 1789, a mob of angry Frenchmen had stormed the Bastille prison, thus toppling one of the prominent symbols of the Old…

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