America is regressing into a developing nation for most people

“The US is no longer one country, but dividing into two separate economic and political worlds.”

Via the Evonomics website, Lynn Parramore provides a useful review of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

Tom Palley on Trumponomics

By Tom Palley, A key element of Trump’s political success has been his masquerade of being pro-worker, which includes posturing as anti-globalization. However, his true economic interest is the exact opposite. That creates conflict between Trump’s political and economic interests. Understanding the calculus of that conflict is critical for understanding and predicting Trump’s economic policy, […]

via Tom Palley on Trumponomics: Neocon Neoliberalism Camouflaged with Anti-Globalization Circus — Radical Political Economy

The rise and fall of the American middle class

William Lazonick, professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell, explains how rationalization, marketization, and globalization characterize the U.S. economy during the past 50 years, and how the behavior of companies and fate of American workers have changed during this process.

via Bill Lazonick on The Rise and Fall of the American Middle Class — Radical Political Economy

By the numbers: Barack Obama’s contribution to the decline of US democracy

I am in some ways a fan of Barack Obama, but here is a stirring piece by Professor John Weeks, criticising his presidency from a left perspective and blaming him, at least partly, for the rise of Trump, with evidence to back it up. Maybe Obama was constrained by the political system and the nature of the financial crisis, but it nevertheless makes for interesting reading.

By John Weeks | EReNSEP| The iconic slogan “Yes, we can!” inspired the wave of enthusiasm that swept up millions of Americans during the presidential election of 2008 and carried Barack Obama to the White House. If that slogan epitomized the beginning of the Obama presidency, he had an equally iconic ending: the first African-American president shaking hands with the first president-elect in at least 100 years endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan […]

via By the numbers: Barack Obama’s contribution to the decline of US democracy 

US-China industry and trade relations – what’s in store?

An interview with Professor John Weeks on Trump’s efforts to revive US manufacturing and the potentially tense international relations in store. Weeks describes how many nations adopt policies which promote their exports, so that the idea of ‘free trade’ is often misleading. Subtle industrial policies such as these are apparently quite common.

The Orwellian turn in contemporary economics

Economist Michael Hudson on some of the trends in contemporary economics, and plenty more besides! He is certainly a fountain of ideas. While I am not sure that I agree with it all, he remains thought-provoking, taking points of view that are definitely unorthodox. For me in particular, his theory, drawing on classical economics, that government-funded provision of education, health, welfare etc can lower production costs and make the economy more competitive is an important one in a world in which the private is so often assumed to be more efficient than the public.

His criticism of Obama as blowing the chance to be a great president during a potentially major turning point in world history, and in fact being a worse one than George W Bush, was unexpected.

This interview was produced by the Real News Network, which is a useful source of independent reporting.

Tariffs and Trump

During his election campaign, Donald Trump’s rhetoric was consistently anti-free trade. He threatened to impose tariffs on US imports from China and to renegotiate trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). His argument for such policies is that they have led to enormous job losses in American industry. Indeed, this may explain some of his appeal to former ‘Rust Belt’ workers who have not been sharing in the ‘American Dream’.

The absence of the American Dream for enormous numbers of Americans is nothing new. Since the 1970s, median wages have been largely stagnant, while the so-called 1%, at the top of the scale, have done exceptionally well. This is reflected in rising income inequality. Among the 1%, one might include CEOs and many of those working in the financial sector.

So if Trump is as good as his word, will he enact protectionist policies, and will these restore more widespread prosperity among the poor and middle-class? Continue reading