Skip to content

Utilitarian Economics and the Corruption of Conservatism

The Oxford English Dictionary has two definitions of the word “conservatism.” The first defines it as a “commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation”; the second defines it as “the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.” The former definition strikes me as…

Read More

Germany’s Trade Surplus: Causes and Effects

On January 25, 2015, in a free election, the Greek people exercised their right to decide the destiny of their country. A majority of the Greeks voted against austerity. SYRIZA, an outspoken left-wing party, came to power. Since that day, many European governments, led by Germany, have stubbornly refused to allow the Greek government to…

Read More

Ricardo’s Vice and the Virtues of Industrial Diversity

There is, however, another explanation for why anti–free trade sentiment has risen: the gains from specialization at the national level were not there to share in the first place, for sound empirical reasons that were ignored in Ricardo’s example. That ignorance has been ingrained in economics since then, as Robbins’s definition—dominant and…

Read More

Capitalism without Capitalists

Western capitalism is in bad shape. A decade has passed since banks and financial houses began to crumble and took Western economies to the brink of collapse, but economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic remains weak. It is still determined more by governments and central banks than the animal spirits of entrepreneurial capitalism.…

Read More

Romance and Socialism in J. S. Mill

John Stuart Mill had the worst personal life of any libertarian philosopher, a competitive category for bad personal lives. Marriage in particular has a record of making libertarian philosophers behave discreditably—that is, in a way that brings discredit not just on their character but on their ideas. Bertrand Russell famously divorced the first of his four wives after a bicycle trip: “suddenly, as I was…

Read More

Toward a New Bretton Woods Agreement

The fifteenth anniversary of the euro in 2017 offers a good occasion to reexamine what is wrong with the present international monetary arrangements and the theories used to justify them. Theoretical questions concerning the nature of money have profound implications for policy issues, including the mandates of central banks, interest rates, exchange rates, credit growth…

Read More

The Bankruptcy of Modern Finance Theory

Outcomes are easy to measure in financial markets: you either beat the index or you don’t. And the results could not be clearer about how few people possess any real skill. A recent study found that 70 percent of actively managed funds have failed to beat their benchmark index and just 2.3 percent have delivered excess…

Read More

The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism

In The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism—a canonical work of economic sociology in the 1970s and ’80s—Daniel Bell argued that the productive and consumptive sides of capitalism had fallen into contradiction. Capitalism continued to rely on the Protestant ethic of sobriety and delayed gratification in the sphere of production, yet, contradictorily, had come to rely on modernist hedonism and credit purchasing in the sphere of consumption. Modern capitalism needed people to be sober by day and swingers by night. What is more, the displacement of the Protestant ethic by hedonism, Bell argued, was primarily the work of capitalism itself. Its mass production urbanized the population and created an economy of abundance…

Read More

The New Class War

The Cold War has been followed by the class war. A transatlantic class war has broken out simultaneously in many countries between elites based in the corporate, financial, and professional sectors and working-class populists. Already this transnational class conflict has produced Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency. Other shocks are…

Read More

Dismiss Macroeconomic Myths and Restore Accountability

Statements from past and present Federal Reserve chairmen inspire little confidence that their models provide any understanding of what is going on within the United States, never mind the rest of the world. Yet the Fed continues to rely on the same analyses as it did before the financial crisis of 2008, and it is still led…

Read More

Sorry, PDF downloads are available to subscribers only.
Subscribe Now
Already a subscriber? Log In