Monday, August 08, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes about the continuing need to rein in the excesses of corporate-dominated globalization:
The failure of globalization to deliver on the promises of mainstream politicians has surely undermined trust and confidence in the “establishment.” And governments’ offers of generous bailouts for the banks that had brought on the 2008 financial crisis, while leaving ordinary citizens largely to fend for themselves, reinforced the view that this failure was not merely a matter of economic misjudgments.

In the United States, Congressional Republicans even opposed assistance to those who were directly hurt by globalization. More generally, neoliberals, apparently worried about adverse incentive effects, have opposed welfare measures that would have protected the losers.

But they can’t have it both ways: If globalization is to benefit most members of society, strong social protection measures must be in place. The Scandinavians figured this out long ago; it was part of the social contract that maintained an open society – open to globalization and changes in technology. Neoliberals elsewhere have not – and now, in elections in the United States and Europe, they are facing their comeuppance.

Globalization is, of course, only one part of what is going on; technological innovation is another part. But all of this openness and disruption were supposed to make us richer, and advanced countries could have introduced policies to ensure that the gains were widely shared.

Instead, they pushed for policies that restructured markets in ways that increased inequality and undermined overall economic performance; growth actually slowed as the rules of the game were rewritten to advance the interests of banks and corporations at the expense of everyone else. Workers’ bargaining power was weakened, competition laws didn’t keep up, and existing laws were inadequately enforced. Financialization continued apace, and corporate governance worsened.

Now, as I point out in my recent book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, the rules of the game need to be changed again – and this must include measures to tame globalization.
- And Erik Sherman writes that increasing economic inequality may be driving the U.S.' political polarization.

- Will Evans points out how temp agencies are able to engage in systemic discrimination with little prospect of having to compensate victims. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses how they also serve as a shield against the enforcement of employment standards, while also reporting on a class action based on the sub-minimum wages paid to workers classified as independent contractors.

- Alec Luhn examines the environmental calamity flowing from Russia's dependence on poorly-maintained pipelines. Richard Fuller and Jack Caravanos remind us that lead poisoning remains a widespread problem which isn't the subject of any meaningful remediation. And Andrew Freedman notes that today's irresponsible experimentation with our shared planet may cause yesterday's to resurface, as climate change allows Cold War-era experiments to emerge from where they'd been buried.

- Meanwhile, Erin Auel discusses how the U.S.' worst carbon polluters are spending large amounts of money trying to fight any regulation at all rather than cleaning up their act. And Eric Lipton and Brooke Williams highlight the connection between think tanks and their corporate puppetmasters.

- Finally, Jim Stanford makes the case to revisit the Bank of Canada's mandate to deal with real concerns about stagnation and systemic unemployment, rather than focusing solely on far-fetched fearmongering about future inflation.

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