Is Capitalism Working?

The Dow is down 4 percent since the start of the month — the Nasdaq’s down 9% — and the financial wizards at the Times’s Upshot blog have concluded that slow growth may be the new normal. Investors everywhere are betting that financial regulators and policymakers have fired their last bullet — and have nothing left to do.

Casey Stengel raised the question about baseball’s miserable Mets long ago: anybody here know how to play this game? It’s the question more and more of us ask about economists and some of them ask about one another: how could the late great Milton Friedman have seen storm-proof clear sailing ahead, when in fact a housing bubble was about to burst all over us? How was it none of the masterminds in power saw the bank-and-insurance collapse coming in 2008?  How are they still in power, in spite of that? No repentance, nothing like radical repairs for an economic regime that’s still running fevers, can’t put young college grads to work, isn’t investing in our own fundamentals. The New York Times writes at the end of a panicky week on Wall Street, “The party is over.”

We’re beginning a series on capitalism in the register of concern: if the ideas are bad all the way down, how can the economy be made good again? Are we finally facing the fact of global slowdown? And where do we go from here?


Guest List
Jeff Madrick
financial commentator and author of Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World.
Laurence Kotlikoff
professor of economics at Boston University, and author of The Clash of Generations and the Purple Plans.

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