James Galbraith

James K. Galbraith is the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in government-business relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior scholar of the Levy Economics Institute, and chair of the Board of Economists for Peace and Security. His most recent book is Unbearable Cost: Bush, Greenspan and the Economics of Empire.

Recent Articles

The Money Artist

Lawrence Weschler's Boggs: A Comedy Of Values 12.02.99 | reviewed by James K. Galbraith Modern economists make bad historians, as a rule. The problem is that a simple-minded metaphor—supply and demand—with its deep yet subtle political commitment to laissez-faire, controls their thought. The market is supposed to rule. Therefore it does. Whatever happened, the market did it. Even when it did not. In this way, economists have screwed up many historical topics. Two decades ago, Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman reinterpreted slavery as a free market institution—and therefore substantially benign—to raucous applause from a few economists but no one else. Lately Claudia Goldin and her followers have been offering tidy tales of technology (demand) and education (supply) to account for changing inequality in mid-century America. These tales leave out the Depression, the New Deal, even World War II. Quite a few economists working on the recent rise in inequality entertain similar views...

A New Picture of The American Economy

We have long supposed and have been frequently told that America's economic troubles stem from our declining productivity growth. Yet the basis for this belief is now eroding. Early in 1991 we learned that during the 1980s our manufacturing productivity grew at 3.6 per cent per year, an "unbelievable revival" in the words of The New York Times . And this revival is as mysterious, as opaque to economic science, as the decline that it seems to have superseded. If the gloomy consensus is now giving way, it is certainly not to optimism, but to confusion. Most economists had accepted the fact of productivity decline without ever having settled the question of how and why it happened. Around the presumed fact of decline, and despite the acknowledged dissensus as to its cause, liberal economists in particular built a core of policy doctrine. They now must face the question whether that policy doctrine stands independent of the changing evidence about productivity or falls victim to it...

How to Win Elections: Integrity as a Political Ploy

In recent elections, those for the presidency in particular, it will be agreed, however sadly, liberals have not been doing very well. Identified as we are (and as we must be) with the Democratic Party, we have now had three resounding defeats in a row. And even before that the achievement was not brilliant: Jimmy Carter, to the extent that he could then be described as a liberal, owed much of his initial success to the Republican devastation resulting from Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and Watergate. And before Carter there were George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey. It is not an encouraging record, and especially as compared with the earlier days of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, when liberals of my generation took success in presidential elections for granted, the by no means reactionary Eisenhower years excepted. I am not in these matters given to single-cause explanations. Personality, as in the case of F.D.R. and Kennedy, was undeniably a factor. Roosevelt was a more exciting...

Pages