James Galbraith

 

James K. Galbraith is author of Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe. He is an elected member
of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Italian national academy. 

Recent Articles

Rich World, Poor World

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey D. Sachs, foreword by Bono ( Penguin Books, 416 pages, $27.95 ) The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future -- And What It Will Take to Win It Back by Jeff Faux ( Wiley, 304 pages, $27.95 ) Jeff Sachs is in many ways the Mother Teresa of the economics profession. Like her, he has dedicated his life to the poor. Like her, he is a darling of the compassionate rich. And like hers, his methods engender, among close and thoughtful critics, a certain degree of unease. In The End of Poverty , Sachs makes his case that extreme global poverty can be ended within a generation, raising nutritional standards, health outcomes, and life expectancies; reducing birth rates; and otherwise creating conditions for tolerable life throughout Africa, South Asia, and the most forlorn parts of South and Central America. It can be done, he contends, at a modest cost and in ways compatible with the inexorable spread of...

The Floodgates Have Opened

Hurricane Katrina and the death of New Orleans have changed everything, exposing the rot in government and the failures of the free-market worldview that has dominated our politics and economic policy for more than 30 years. Once again, the country must take stock of a terrible failure; once again we must change direction. It is becoming clear that the human and economic damage from Katrina will far exceed that from September 11. Katrina has killed many thousands and displaced more than a million people. Immediately they need shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and places in school; these are being provided. But very quickly they will also need housing, jobs, and health insurance. Later on they will need help to get back home, if they choose to return, as many will, when New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are rebuilt. The affected families should be given housing vouchers and placement assistance; cities like Houston, which is inundated with evacuees, should get immediate impact aid to...

Reasonable Doubt

Anywhere else, the police killing of the young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in the London Underground on July 22 would be called a gangland-style murder. Yet the authorities are unmoved. Sir Ian Blair, commissioner of Scotland Yard, stiffly warned that more shootings might follow. Home Secretary Charles Clarke stated “full support” for the police. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw gave the reason: Police must “have effective discretion to deal with what could be terrorist suicide outrages about to take place.” But this raises a question. Have any “terrorist suicide outrages” actually taken place? Outrages, certainly. But were the bombs of July 7 suicide bombs, as every commentator has accepted? In judging this question, we can rely only on information that has come from the police. So let's do that. Let's assume that every fact asserted by British security forces with respect to the July 7 bombings is true. We may have to relax that assumption later, as economists say. But let's...

1994: Boasting on Demand

“Are we really on a cliff by the sea, poised perilously above the waves and the rocks? Or are we in fact down by the beach, on a gentle slope of soft and agreeable sand?” “Can't We Go Faster?” TAP , September 1997 I claim the best record of any economist to survive the 1990s, now that William Vickrey and Robert Eisner have passed on. In The American Prospect in 1994 [see “The Joys of Recession,” Winter], and again in 1997 [see “Can't We Go Faster?” ], I urged my fellow economists to shed their fears of full unemployment and low interest rates. Few did. But then Alan Greenspan began to behave as if he had, on the sly, been reading the Prospect . Having worried the world with a preemptive strike against inflation, Greenspan stopped worrying. He froze the interest rate, allowed strong growth, and drove the economy to full-employment prosperity for the first time in almost 30 years. Nothing bad happened. Inflation did not rise. Instead, as Eisner had foretold, productivity growth rose,...

Bankers Versus Base

There may come a day, in January 2005, when the Democrats will come back to power. Can we perhaps divert ourselves from the campaign long enough to ask, what then? The Democrats have a problem. Their base wants jobs and security. Their financial leadership wants a return to the Clinton formula of deficit reduction, leaving low interest rates to generate economic growth and jobs. John Kerry's emerging economic platform pays heavy homage to this formula, but it is unlikely to work out. A return to Bill Clinton's policies will not reproduce Bill Clinton's results. There are at least six reasons why this is so. First, we are still in the turbulent wake of the technology slump. Capacity utilization remains low, depressing business investment. This overhang will heal eventually, but in most sectors it hasn't healed yet. As a result, private business is not yet poised for another takeoff; don't expect another dot-com bubble real soon. Second, household debt burdens remain high. Households...

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