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A Path Out of the Trade and Savings Trap

Except in Africa and South Asia, the world’s population is aging rapidly. Between 2010 and 2050 the proportion of Americans over 65 will nearly double assuming constant fertility and immigration. By 2034 the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted. By that time there will be two Americans over 65 for every five Americans of…

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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…

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Our Policy Agenda

Since the launch of American Affairs three months ago, a favorite topic of commentators has been the inversion of the usual order of policy journals and political movements: this time, a “populist” political movement achieved power before its theoretical contours or specific agenda had been thoroughly defined. Moreover, this journal, although in many ways provoked by the 2016 campaign, arose independently of the new administration. The extent of any affinity between the two remains to be seen. We are as cognizant of these challenges as even our most impatient critics, and we are in fact grateful that there are so many of the latter…

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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…

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Why a New Policy Journal?

The conventional party platforms no longer address or even comprehend the most pressing challenges facing American institutions. Economic mobility is down and inequality is up, while growth, productivity, and wages are nearly stagnant. Trust in government is at historic lows…

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The Digital Age Produces Binary Outcomes

The digital age produces binary outcomes. Winners tend to win overwhelmingly—in war as well as in business. The Soviet Union crumbled in the late 1980s when American technology bested Soviet military spending, then estimated at a quarter of GDP. The enormous Russian bet on military power lost and Communism fell. America emerged from the Cold…

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A Return to Political Economy

Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, it was widely taken for granted that the U.S. economy was exceptional, at least in the developed world: it was the only one of the major developed economies that could grow. The Japanese economy had stagnated in the 1990s. Europe was on the road to similar stagnation on account of its pensioner-heavy demographic profile and an overregulated business sector…

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James Burnham’s Managerial Elite

Conservative polemicists have long presented a caricature of a decadent liberal elite, and liberals have offered a competing caricature of a conservative plutocracy. But few have attempted to understand how these ostensible opponents function as elements of the same elite, or how they have participated in maintaining the broader intellectual, political, and economic status quo.…

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