translated by Jacqueline Lindenfeld
Are robust economic growth and tight social cohesion something of the past, or is contemporary stagnation simply part of a long economic cycle that is bound to bring brighter days? Should government step in to boost productivity and income, or does economic globalization necessitate a new laissez-faire model for the twenty-first century?
The Misfortunes of Prosperity elucidates the current debates on these and other questions in a fast-paced and incisive tour of the dominant ideas in political economy, summarizing historical and theoretical perspectives on the causes of economic growth in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and elsewhere as the twentieth-century draws to a close.
Daniel Cohen discusses the effects of the showdown of productivity in Europe and the United States and explains the origin of the apparent tradeoff between unemployment in Europe and wage inequalities in the United States. On questions of economic policy and the competing academic views (new classical and Keynesian) of the efficacy of government intervention, Cohen inverts the Keynesian belief that government intervention causes growth, and explains why waves of government interventions (including wars) usually follow upward economic trends (rather than create it). But he also advocates government discretion rather than government neutrality by showing the disastrous consequences of hands off approach to debt, inflation, and social security.
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About the Author
Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the École Normale SupÉrieure and the UniversitÉ de Paris-I. A member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister, he is the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations, Our Modern Times: The Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age, Globalization and Its Enemies, and Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society, all published by the MIT Press.