America’s economic debate is stuck in a time warp. The prescriptions of free market economics peddled by the Republicans – slash taxes and spending, end financial and environmental regulations – are throwbacks to the 1920s. The other side is only a little better. In Paul Krugman’s telling, we are in the 1930s – and there are no structural challenges, only shortfalls in aggregate demand. We need to move beyond these increasingly irrelevant ideologies.
We need new economic strategies to overhaul broken systems of finance, labour markets, taxation, ecological management, budget management and investment incentives. Those challenges cannot be fixed through lowering taxes on the rich or higher fiscal deficits to create aggregate demand. The new approaches must be long-term, structural, sensitive to inequalities of skills and education, aligned with the need for more sustainable technologies and “smarter” infrastructure (empowered by information technology) and congruent with long-term demographic trends. It’s time we moved beyond the Republican Party economics of the 1920s and the Democratic Party economics of the 1930s, to a new macroeconomics for the 21st century. Continue reading »