The End of Economic Primacy

Nov 07 21:11 2019 Print This Article

Periodization is an under-appreciated part of political and economic narratives.  What are the broad patterns that determine before and after?  What marks different phases or epochs?  In Capital Alone, Branko Milanovic's new book, he suggests a social-democratic form of capitalism dominated after WWII. At the start of the 21st century, a liberal meritocratic version emerged in the US.  He suggests the current period is marked by a conflict between this liberal meritocratic form and political capitalism that China illustrates.

In my 2017 book, Political Economy of Tomorrow, I draw on a different periodization.  It is also based on how capitalism is organized.  While Milanovic's focus is on types and extent of inequality, my periodization is based on how capitalism is organized. Hence, his social-democratic period corresponds to the Bretton Woods era.  However, Bretton Woods comes under pressure nearly as soon as it is fully implemented.  Warnings that this was unstable were articulated almost a decade before Nixon severed the last formal link between the dollar and gold. 

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About Article Author

Marc to Market

Marc Chandler has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for more than 25 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks. Chandler attended North Central College for undergraduate work, where he majored in political science and the humanities. He holds master's degrees from Northern Illinois University and University of Pittsburgh in American History and International Political Economy. Currently Chandler teaches at New York University Center for Global Affairs, where he is an associate professor. A prolific writer and speaker he appears regularly in the press and has spoken for, and is an honorary fellow of, the Foreign Policy Association. In addition to being quoted in the financial press daily, Chandler has been published in the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and the Washington Post. In 2009, Chandler was named a Business Visionary by Forbes. In 2009, his book, Making Sense of the Dollar, was published by Bloomberg Press and received a Bronze Award from Independent Publishers.

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