What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)

By Guillaume Allègre

What is a Left economics? In an opinion column published in the newspaper Libération on 9 June 2015 (“la concurrence peut servir la gauche” [“Competition can serve the Left”], Jean Tirole and Etienne Wasmer reply that to be progressive means “sharing a set of values and distributional objectives”. But, as Brigitte Dormont, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy meaningfully remark (“Non, le marché n’est pas l’ennemi de la gauche” [“No, the market is not the enemy of the Left”]) in Libération on 11 June 2015, reducing progressive politics to the redistribution of income leaves something out. Continue reading “What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)”

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Does inequality hurt economic performance?

By Francesco Saraceno

Economic theory has long neglected the effects of income distribution on the performance of the economy. Students were taught right from Introduction to Economics 101 that the subject of efficiency had to be separated from considerations of equity. The idea is that the size of the cake had to be expanded to the maximum before it is shared. It was implicit in this dichotomy that economists should address the issue of efficiency and leave the question of distribution (or redistribution) to the politicians. In this framework, the economist’s role is simply to ensure that choices about the channels for redistribution through taxation and public spending do not affect growth by interfering with the incentives of economic agents. Echoes of this view can be found both in the debate about the taxation of very large incomes envisaged by the French Government as well as in authors like Raghuram Rajan who justify inequality with references to technical progress and international trade, a view refuted by Paul Krugman. Continue reading “Does inequality hurt economic performance?”

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The economic crisis is a crisis of economic policy

By Jean-Luc Gaffard

The simultaneous increase of inflation and unemployment in the 1970s indicated that Keynesian theory and policy had run into a wall. No longer was it simply possible to arbitrate between the two evils and fine-tune economic activity by acting solely on aggregate demand through the budget channel. This failure together with the persistence of high inflation eventually convinced policymakers of the need and urgency of prioritising the fight against inflation. Continue reading “The economic crisis is a crisis of economic policy”

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