"We never trade future benefits for present costs."
Mark Blyth is the butcher’s son from Dundee, now the American professor of political economics, still with the Sean Connery burr in his voice. Sounds like a working stiff; seems to think like one. Not for Professor Blyth the dismal science of markets and money, supply and demand. He stands for the gabby art of political economics: it’s about the pain and popular pushback that came (in our time) with globalization and pinched public spending; it gets to be about very human emotions like anger, frustration, fear, and shock. Here’s a typical Mark Blyth take: “When 80% of the people figure out that 80% of time the 20% are running the show for themselves, there’s trouble ahead.” He said that before Brexit, before Trump, and he’s still saying things a lot like it.
Mark Blyth is our pal in the portable Scottish pub. The game is: stump the political economist from Brown University, at the end of Joe Biden’s first year. The basic question, of course: why are the Democrats so glum, with pretty low unemployment and good-enough growth? Why does the majestic command of Franklin Roosevelt seem such a distant memory? Are the Democrats doomed when they’re serving two masters or maybe three: the woke left, the working poor, and the low-tax capitalist class? You have to listen fast with Mark Blyth because he talks so fast—about the Great Resignation trend; about inflation; and, by the way: is hydrogen the fuel of the future? He likes to say the answers are simple, but you have to check that he’s made them clear. Here we go with Mark Blyth; he’s in the pub just in time.
Economist at Brown University.