After Free Trade – a review of Eric Helleiner’s *The Neomercantilists: A Global Intellectual History*

Helleiner shows that there were as many flavors of neomercantilism as there were national, imperial, and postcolonial traditions. From Meiji Japan to Sun Yat-sen’s China, from Muhammad Ali’s Egypt to Marcus Garvey’s African diaspora and the Swadeshi movement in India, neomercantilist ideas flourished throughout the long nineteenth century. They took form in political speeches, racistContinue reading “After Free Trade – a review of Eric Helleiner’s *The Neomercantilists: A Global Intellectual History*”

The American Anti-Austerity Tradition

The financialization of the U.S. economy has directed U.S. savings into more and more unproductive speculative investments. Consumption has become increasingly buoyed by unsustainable “indebted demand.” And the threat of secular stagnation due to inequality looms increasingly large against the backdrop of changing demographics and environmental degradation. To many, these are the novel economic conditionsContinue reading “The American Anti-Austerity Tradition”

In the Common Interest

In an influential 1943 essay, Polish economist Michał Kalecki staged a contest between capitalism’s pursuit of profit and its pursuit of power. While the benefits of government-sponsored full employment would benefit capitalists economically, Kalecki argued, it would also fundamentally threaten their social position—and the latter mattered more. If wide sections of the country came toContinue reading “In the Common Interest”

Reconstruction Finance

Global underconsumption and a structurally-weakened working class are problems likely to persist as the twenty-first century marches on. Altering the shape of our global economy will require building new institutions capable of funneling excess savings into productive investment. This is not something that can be done with a temporary increase in spending—no matter how large.Continue reading “Reconstruction Finance”

Introducing *An Economic Program for American Democracy*

In 1938, a group of Harvard and Tufts economists published a book titled An Economic Program for American Democracy. The group included a few famous names – Richard V. Gilbert; George H. Hildebrand, Jr.; Arthur W. Stuart; Maxine Yaple Sweezy; Paul M. Sweety; Lorie Tarshis and John D. Wilson – and a few who neverContinue reading “Introducing *An Economic Program for American Democracy*”

Kennedy Johnson Tax Cuts

The Kennedy-Johnson tax cut was the crowning achievement of the Keynesian Revolution. It was something unique in American history: it wasn’t stimulus in response to a recession – it was a tax cut to prevent an expansion from slowing. It was Growth Keynesianism, the recognition that demand played a role in keeping long-run growth going,Continue reading “Kennedy Johnson Tax Cuts”

The Employment Act of 1946

The Economic ContextPostwar ProposalsWhat Was in the Proposed Full Employment Bill?Congressional Debates*Interpreting the Past*Goals*Feasibility*Method*Forecasting*InstitutionalizationResults – Final BillResults – Economic PerformanceFurther Reading The Employment Act was one of the defining moments in the history of American Keynesianism. Pushed by the left-wing of the New Deal coalition as the culmination of all that the 1930s and WorldContinue reading “The Employment Act of 1946”

A Little World Building

In the next few blog posts, we’ll start to unpack American Keynesianism. What was it? Who advocated for it? What did it accomplish? To do this, we’ll read some of the major writings on American Keynesianism, and summarize the findings with an eye towards synthesis. We’re world building here, so we’ll need some characters andContinue reading “A Little World Building”

Introducing RGK – “What’s in a name?”

Since the Global Financial Crisis, Americans have been trying to rethink our political economy. The meltdown seemed to expose the previous thirty years — the so-called “Great Moderation” — as something of a mirage, an illusion that masked growing inequality, financialization, and slower growth. As we all try to figure out what to do aboutContinue reading “Introducing RGK – “What’s in a name?””