The events that led to Donald Trump’s election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the story goes, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table. “This is what we believe,” she said. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.
Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday to the Boston Fed conference was like a greatest-hits collection of the frustrations long expressed by advocates of more-stimulative demand policy.
One of those frustrations has been rooted in the belief that a more aggressive counter-cyclical response to recessions doesn’t merely jumpstart the economy again, but also prevents semi-permanent damage to the economy’s very capacity for growth — in other words, weak demand now can damage potential supply into the future.
This causal relationship can exist through a few obvious channels. People without jobs lose their skills and their contacts, making them less productive even in later years. The investment in equipment, buildings, and research needed to make innovative breakthroughs is foregone.
I’ve been a businessman. My first venture, back in the 1970s, was a worker-owned cooperative that installed solar water heating systems. Our six co-founders wanted the business to stay small and democratic—one person, one vote. And for a while we did, until some of us had kids and others wanted to learn new skills. So we grew the business, became more hierarchal, and earned more income.
My second venture, Working Assets (now Credo Mobile), is a traditionally structured private company with a self-chosen mission: to support progressive causes while earning a profit. It seeks growth as a way to reward early investors and increase its social impact.
Thomas Belsham. What do the Cold War powers of the United States and the USSR have in common with modern day asset managers? The capacity for mutually assured destruction. During the 1950s game theorists described a model of strategic interaction to demonstrate how it might be that two nations would choose to annihilate each other…
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