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The Return of the State: The New Investment Paradigm

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  • Marshall Auerback

Abstract

To save America--indeed, the global economy as a whole--the private/public sector balance has to shift, and the neoliberal economic model on which the country has been based for the past 25 years has to be modified. In this new working paper, Marshall Auerback details why the role of the state needs to be reemphasized. The abandonment of a mixed economy and corresponding diminution of the role of government was hailed as the "rebirth of individualism," yet it caused rising inequality and the decline of median wages, and led to the widespread neglect of public goods vital to its citizens' welfare. Meanwhile, the country ran through the public investment it had made from the 1930s to the 1970s, with few serious challenges from policymakers or mainstream economists. The neoliberal model was also aggressively exported: the "optimal" growth strategy for all emerging economies was supposedly one that emphasized limited government, corporate governance, rule of law, and higher levels of state-owned and -influenced enterprise—in spite of significant historical evidence to the contrary. Not even the economic wreckage in Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, Indonesia, and Russia seemed sufficient to challenge, let alone overturn, the prevailing paradigm. That is, until now: in reaction to the financial crisis, many governments—led by the United States—are enacting massive economic stimulus packages and taking a central role in promoting economic growth strategies. This reemergence of state-driven capitalism constitutes a "back to the future" investment paradigm, one that is consistent with a long and successful pattern of economic development. But once we get beyond the pothole patching and school repairing, what industries can be pushed forward using public seed capital or through Sematech-like consortiums? What must be brought to the fore is the need for a new growth path for the United States, one in which the state has a significant role. There are already indications that the private sector is beginning to adapt to this new, collaborative paradigm.

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  • Marshall Auerback, 2009. "The Return of the State: The New Investment Paradigm," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_561, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_561
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    1. Gennaro Zezza, 2009. "Fiscal policy and the economics of financial balances," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, pages 289-310.
    2. Rebecca M. Blank, 1991. "Why Were Poverty Rates So High in the 1980s?," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_57, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Easterlin, Richard A & Macdonald, Christine & Macunovich, Diane J, 1990. "How Have American Baby Boomers Fared? Earnings and Economic Well-Being of Young Adults, 1964-1987," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 277-290.
    4. Susan E. Mayer & Christopher Jencks, 1989. "Poverty and the Distribution of Material Hardship," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(1), pages 88-114.
    5. Katharine L. Bradbury, 1986. "The shrinking middle class," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 41-55.
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