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Progressive Book Reviews

Of another world

Fabrizio Barca, the animator of the Forum Disuguaglianze e Diversità (Inequalities and Diversity Forum) and Enrico Giovannini, the founder and spokesperson of the Alleanza per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (Alliance for Sustainable Development), have written up a dialogue – edited by Gloria Riva – which is also an agenda for the future. Not the future as…

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The Social Momentum of Europe

Spring 2021 is a good season for Social Europe: with the European Commission coming forward with an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council staging a major conference in Porto about strengthening the social dimension of the EU, the discussion on Social Europe could not…

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Modern Monetary Theory: What should the EMU make of it?

In 2020, governments all over Europe and beyond have enacted unprecedented fiscal stimulus to keep their economies afloat amidst the pandemic. By the end of the year, a country like France will have engaged or guaranteed at least 300 billion Euro in 2020, the equivalent of four years of income tax receipts. Institutions of the…

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“Just do it”: The Economics of Belonging and the temptation of Nike Politics

Corbyn! Trump! Brexit! Thus went the words of Talking Politics, an influential British podcast, when launched in 2016. Since then, much talk about politics has been talk about populism, in Cambridge common rooms and elsewhere. What are its causes and consequences, how can it be dispelled or harnessed, does it harbour progressive, reactionary, or just…

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An ode to muddling through

Exactly ten years after we entered office as members of the Barroso II Commission, and were immediately confronted with the Greek debt crisis, my former colleague, the then-European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, comes forward with his memoire under the metaphoric title: Walking the Highwire. The existential crisis of the single currency,…

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Debunking the long-held myths that keep austerity alive

John Week’s The Debt Delusion: Living Within our Means and Other Fallacies is a thought provoking book for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the sheer impossibility of separating economics from the social and political context that shapes the policies we all have to live with. This not only undermines the idea…

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Trade wars are not people’s wars

Understanding the processes and causal mechanisms that determine our world is the first step towards making good policy. Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis’s book, ‘Trade wars are class wars’, is an important contribution to current debates about trade and globalisation. The main argument of the book is that “rising inequality within countries heightens trade…

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Automation: a boon or bane for workers?

The economic historian Carl Benedikt Frey is perhaps best known for his estimation back in 2013 that 47% of all jobs in the US were at risk of being substituted by computers. Last year, he followed suit with a book, in which he looks at the history of automation and its social and political consequences,…

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The slow extinction of the American working class

Popular predictions about the political extinction of the working class were gross overgeneralisations. However, workers face a more direct, biological threat: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. Anne Case and her Nobel-laurate husband, Angus Deaton, tackle in their latest book the loss of stable jobs, the rise of inequality, the stagnation of the…

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The Pandemic and Capitalism

Once in a long while a new book comes along that challenges prevailing patterns of progressive social and economic thought in a way that is both deep and far-reaching, yet still evidently originating from within the critical left, so as – potentially – to prove persuasive to thoughtful and open-minded progressives. Capitalism on Edge: How…

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