1 John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (1930),” in Essays in Persuasion (London: MacMillan, 1931), 358–73. Keynes’s postcapitalist vision is usefully explored in Pascal Riche, “Keynes 2030,” Verso (blog), February 15, 2017. In the U.S., total income is sufficient to ratify Keynes’s forecast of a society in which further acquisitiveness would be unnecessary, with GDP of $64,000 per person and $161,000 per household; see “United States GDP,” Trading Economics, and United States Census Bureau, “Historical Households by Type: 1940 to Present,” United States Census Bureau Current Population Survey, November 2019. Yet in this apparently wealthy nation, more than 30 percent of households have no savings beyond their often meager equity in their residence and 40 percent could not handle a surprise $400 expense; see Sam Dogen, “The Percentage of People with No Wealth outside Their Home Is Sad,” Financial Samurai, January 16, 2018, and Annie Nova, “Many Americans Who Can’t Afford a $400 Emergency Blame Debt,” CNBC, July 21, 2019. Sky-high income inequality means that, amidst the aggregate plenty, a large majority of Americans live little better than they did a half century ago, with only a small minority enjoying the economy imagined by Lord Keynes ninety years ago.
2 Branko Milanović, “The Clash of Capitalisms: The Real Fight for the Global Economy’s Future,” Foreign Affairs 99, no. 1 (January–February 2020): 10–21.
3 Nicholas Lemann, “Unmerited: Inequality and the New Elite,” Foreign Affairs 99, no. 1 (January–February 2020): 140–47.
4 Joel Kotkin, “America’s Drift toward Feudalism,” American Affairs 3, no. 4 (Winter 2019): 96–107.
5 Julius Krein, “The Real Class War,” American Affairs 3, no. 4 (Winter 2019):
6 See Peter Dizikes, “The Productive Career of Robert Solow,” MIT Technology Review, December 27, 2019.
7 See Gabriela Schulte, “Poll: 57 percent of Voters Say U.S. Political System Works Only for Insiders with Money & Power,” Hill, March 31, 2020.
8 See Wolfgang Streeck, How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System (New York: Verso, 2016). Daniel Araya, “The Revolution After the Crisis,” Forbes, March 31, 2020, addresses Keynes’s prediction of how Western capitalism ends following the virtual closure of the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic and echoes Streeck’s conclusion about a new neo-feudalist political economy. His reconciliation of the two is unconvincing, but this speaks to the confusion around the current crisis of capitalism.
9 Craig Zabala and Daniel Luria, “New Gilded Age or Old Normal?,” American Affairs 3, no. 3 (Fall 2019): 18–37. As we noted there, oligarchy is problematic and far from new. Over a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of plutocracy” (Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography [New York: MacMillan, 1913], 464). But vulgarity is not a death sentence. The rising inequality that enables plutocracy saps the growth in majority living standards. Without that growth, we argued, “populist” responses are inevitable, and this state of affairs “does not bode well for the coexistence of capitalism and liberal democracy in the future.”
10 “Beware the Borg,” Economist, December 21, 2019, 63–64.
11 Heidi Haidilun and Tom Mackenzie, “China Fossil Fuel Deadline Shifts Focus to Electric Car Race,” Bloomberg, September 10, 2017.
12 World Bank “Gross Capital Formation (percent of GDP)—China, United States,” World Bank Open Data, accessed January 28, 2020.
13 This is not to say that China has always executed its projects—from new cities to Coronavirus quarantine facilities—with full competency, of course. Nor is it in any way to defend every aspect of China’s authoritarian state, including mass surveillance, persecution of its Uighur minority, or its less-than-transparent economic data. But none of those features are essential to economic planning, which is the critical driver of rapid and relatively widely shared growth.
14 Greg B. Smith, “Port Authority Delays 1 World Trade Center Opening as Project Takes More Time, Money Than Expected,” New York Daily News, September 6, 2014.
15 World Bank “GDP Growth (annual percent)—China, United States, European Union,” World Bank Open Data, accessed January 8, 2020.
16 World Bank, “GDP Per Capita (Constant 2010 US$),” World Bank Open Data, accessed March 23, 2020.
17 Pippa Stevens, “Here Are the 10 Companies with the Most Cash on Hand,” CNBC, November 7, 2019.
18 T. Wang, “Annual Average Infrastructure Expenditures as Percent of GDP Worldwide from 2010 to 2015, by Country,” Statista, August 9, 2019.
19 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “(Net Government Investment: Federal: Nondefense+Net Domestic Investment: Government: State and Local)/Gross Domestic Product*100,” FRED Economic Data, accessed March 20, 2020.
20 Rachel Barker and Joseph Parilla, “Detroit’s Big Bet on Small Business,” Brookings, May 23, 2017. See also Craig A. Zabala and Jeremy M. Josse, “Shadow Banking: Rising Opportunities in the Private Middle Market,” KPMG Institutes (New York: KPMG Advisory Institute and Global Enterprise Institute, October 2013), 1–12; and Craig A. Zabala and Jeremy M. Josse, “Shadow Credit and the Private Middle Market: Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis Developments, Data Trends, and Two Examples of Private, Non-Bank Lending.” Journal of Risk Finance 15, no. 3 (May 2014): 214–33.
21 See Celine McNicholas, Margaret Poydock, Julia Wolfe, Ben Zipperer, Gordon Lafer, and Lola Loustaunau, Unlawful: U.S. Employers Are Charged with Violating Federal Law in 41.5 percent of All Union Election Campaigns (Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute), December 11, 2019.
22 Gary Rivlin, “The Stimulus Halts a Corporate Trick That Gouges Workers. But It Comes Too Late,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020.
23 “U.S. Stock Ownership: Who Owns? Who Benefits?” Globalist, September 19, 2013.
24 The Annual Report of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Select SEC and Market Data from 1939 to 2003 and 2004 to 2014 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2019).
25 David MacLaughlin and Annie Mass, “The Hidden Dangers of the Great Index Fund Takeover,” Bloomberg Businessweek, January 13, 2020, 20–25.
26 MacLaughlin and Massie, “Hidden Dangers,” 20.
27 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Economic Research Division, accessed February 1, 2020.
28 Craig A. Zabala and Jeremy M. Josse, “Shadow Credit in the Middle Market: The Decade after the Financial Collapse,” Journal of Risk Finance 19, no. 5 (November 2018): 414–36.
29 Jason Kavanaugh, “The Rise of Family Offices: 10-Fold Growth in Less Than a Decade,” Real Assets Adviser, March 1, 2018.
30 Jeffrey Vögeli and Jan-Henrik Förster, “Swiss Savers Are Storing Cash in Boxes in Order to Tackle Negative Interest Rates,” Independent, September 10, 2016.
31 Allana Akhtar, “The 2020s Could Be an Apocalyptic Decade for Wall Street as Artificial Intelligence Takes Over the Most Popular Jobs in Finance,” Business Insider, December 9, 2020. See also Don Tait and Ruomeng Wang, Artificial Intelligence in Banking Report—2019 (London: IHS Markit, April 2019).
32 Akhtar, “The 2020s.”
33 Jason Wiens and Chris Jackson, The Importance of Young Firms for Economic Growth (Kansas City, Mo.: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, September 24, 2014).
34 Ben Casselman, “Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted,” FiveThirtyEight, August 8, 2014.
35 E. J. Reedy and Robert E. Litan, Starting Smaller; Staying Smaller: America’s Slow Leak in Job Creation (Kansas City, Mo.: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, July 2011).
36 Ian Hathaway and Robert E. Litan, “Declining Business Dynamism: It’s for Real,” Brookings, May 22, 2014.
37 Evelyn Cheng, “China Is Indicating It’ll Never Give in to U.S. Demands to Change Its State-Run Economy,” CNBC, May 27, 2019.
38 Kai-Fu Lee, AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).
39 China Power Team, “What Does China Really Spend on Its Military?” China Power, December 28, 2015.
40 This is arguably least true in the case of the Scandinavian countries, which—despite recent and continuing attempts at rollback—retain much more thoroughgoing social democratic norms, including the willingness of their professional class to be taxed for the provision of ample public goods. Perhaps not coincidentally, most professionals in these countries are in trade unions that bargain nationally.
41 Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel, Understanding the Historic Divergence between Productivity and a Typical Worker’s Pay, EPI Briefing Paper 406 (Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, September 2, 2015).
42 Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has written at length about the ways the system is, as he puts it, “rigged” with guilds and other barriers to entry that collectively allow doctors, orthodontists, corporate lawyers, and other high-income professionals to capture excessive rents. See especially his seminal book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer (Washington, D.C.: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2016).