Martin Wolf: How to Reform Today’s Rigged Capitalism https://www.ft.com/content/4cf2d6ee-14f5-11ea-8d73-6303645ac406: 'We must address weakened competition, feeble productivity growth, high inequality and degraded democracy: “It is clear then that . . . those states in which the middle element is large, and stronger if possible than the other two [wealthy and poor] together, or at any rate stronger than either of them alone, have every chance of having a well-run constitution.” Thus did Aristotle summarise his analysis of the Greek city states. The stability of what we would now call “constitutional democracy” depended on the size of its middle class. It is no accident that the US and UK, long-stable democracies today succumbing to demagogy, are the most unequal of the western high-income countries. Aristotle, we are learning, was right. My September analysis of “rigged capitalism” concluded that “we need a dynamic capitalist economy that gives everybody a justified belief that they can share in the benefits. What we increasingly seem to have instead is an unstable rentier capitalism, weakened competition, feeble productivity growth, high inequality and, not coincidentally, an increasingly degraded democracy.” So what is to be done? The answer is not to overthrow the market economy, undo globalisation or halt technological change. It is to do what has been done many times in the past: reform capitalism. That is the argument I made in a recent debate with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on whether liberal capitalism should be saved. I argued, in effect, that “if we want everything to stay the same, everything must change”, as the Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote. If we want to preserve our freedom and democracy we need to embrace change. Here are five policy areas that need to be addressed. First, competition.... Second, finance.... Third, the corporation. The limited liability joint stock corporation was a great invention, but it is also a highly privileged entity. The narrow focus on maximising shareholder value has exacerbated the bad side-effects.... Fourth, inequality. As Aristotle warned, beyond a certain point, inequality is corrosive.... Finally, our democracies need refurbishing. Probably, the most important concerns are over the role of money in politics and the way the media works. Money buys politicians. This is plutocracy, not democracy. The malign impact of fake news (which is the opposite of what the US president means by the term) is also clear. We need public funding of parties, complete transparency of private funding and also far greater use of consultative forums...


#noted #2019-12-26

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