Christian Weller

Christian E. Weller is a macroeconomist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

The Scandal Beyond Enron

T he Enron implosion briefly focused public attention on the vulnerability of ordinary Americans' pension coverage. But the remedial legislation passed by the Republican House actually makes workers even more vulnerable. The bigger scandal is not the occasional loss of entire retirement savings in cases such as Enron's but the inadequate coverage and systematic erosion of worker retirement benefits generally. Real reform would not just safeguard retirement savings from Enron-style thefts but would broaden retirement savings, especially for those less affluent workers who typically have little or no coverage at all. While the Democratic leadership is pushing for better legislation to protect against Enron-style abuses, neither party is currently promoting broader reform. A basic flaw in the current system is that retirement is tied to one's job, and that a given employer is free to have -- or not have -- some kind of pension plan. A second flaw is the shift to so-called defined-...

Free Markets and Poverty

F or better than two decades, the orthodox recipe for global growth has been embodied in the so-called Washington Consensus. This approach, advocated by the United States and enforced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), holds that growth is maximized when barriers to the free flow of capital and commerce are dismantled and when individual economies are exposed to the discipline, consumer markets, and entrepreneurs of the world economic system. Proponents of this view have contended that the free-market approach to development will also alleviate poverty, both by raising overall growth rates and by bringing modern capitalism to the world's poorest. Yet the actual experience since 1980 contradicts almost every one of these claims. Indeed, the free-trade/free-capital formula has led to slower growth and more vulnerability for poor countries--and to greater income disparity among individuals. In 1980 median income in the richest 10 percent of countries was 77...