Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux was the founder, and is now Distinguished Fellow, of the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

Can Liberals Tell a Credible Story?

If Democrats want to be more than bit players in the Reagan movie, the liberal story needs new characters, new images, and stronger language about opportunity, wealth, and inequality.

P olitical debate is a contest between competing stories about, as supply-sider Jude Wanniski once neatly put it, "how the world works." Today, America lacks serious political debate because Democrats are still substantially trapped in Ronald Reagan's narrative—the morality play of the Individual against the Collectivist State, in which virtue is identified with wealth, efficiency with the unregulated market, and freedom with the opportunity to get rich. Bill Clinton claims he is telling a new story—a centrist compromise that deregulates the market and shrinks government to spur greater economic growth, and then, through education and the celebration of self-help, broadens opportunities to enjoy the fruits of that growth. Policy insiders can still read the differences between the Clinton and Reagan stories. But to most Americans, Clinton's story line is muddled, its characterizations weak (nothing to match Reagan's welfare queens, power-grabbing bureaucrats, or hypocritical...

Slouching toward Seattle

The World Trade Organization so far is a business-oriented club that has undermined the mixed economy everywhere. But it might be the framework for a global New Deal. The Seattle trade meetings could set the tone.

Every economic system develops a politics around the institutions and rules that govern it. The economic system now being created by the relentless merging of the world's markets will be no exception. But what global politics will emerge to match the new global economy? One place to look for clues will be in Seattle this November 30, when officials representing the 134 nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) gather to begin another round of negotiations to lower trade barriers. More than tariffs will be on the table. As Renato Ruggiero, the outgoing director-general of the WTO, put it, "We are no longer writing the rules of interaction among separate national economies. We are writing the constitution of a single global economy." The Seattle "ministerial" conference has a largely ceremonial purpose: to approve agreements already struck in smaller, less public meetings around the globe. The official business in Seattle will therefore be much like casting votes at a U.S. political...

The Global Alternative

T he economic orthodoxy that guides the management of the global economy has failed to deliver. During the past two decades of accelerated privatization, deregulation, and free trade, global growth has actually slowed. The countries (mostly Asian) that grew faster rejected the advice of the bankers, bureaucrats, consultants, and media pundits who constitute the Washington Consensus on such matters. At the same time, inequality both in developed and in developing countries has generally worsened and poverty is spreading. Even James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, has observed: "At the level of people, the system isn't working." Yet there remains a widespread impression that there is no other option--that capital markets are so sensitive, governments must bend to the political agenda of those who speak for the world's great financial institutions. From the boardrooms, protestors are dismissed as selfish protectionists or ignorant malcontents whose tantrums will only divert the...

A Trade Deal Built on Sand

T he World Trade Organization finally found a safe place to hold a meeting. Doha, a city in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Qatar, is only 1,000 miles from Afghanistan. It is a 9,000-mile flight from Seattle, where two years ago street protestors frustrated the WTO's attempt to set an agenda for another "round" of negotiations over rules for global trading and investment. But this time, on November 14, protected by a detachment of plainclothes U.S. marines in a desert theocracy sealed tight against outsiders, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick engineered an agreement on an agenda over which 142 countries will negotiate during the next three years. And just in time. Failure would have reinforced growing doubts among both critics and supporters as to the WTO's credibility. Just a few years ago, Renato Ruggiero, the organization's director general at the time, could say with confidence that its rules for global trade were the "constitution of a single global economy." Today,...