Chicago financial economist Raghuram Rajan views communities as the third pillar of liberal democracy.

Jonah Whanau

2019-02-25 12:41:00 Mon ET

Chicago financial economist Raghuram Rajan views communities as the third pillar of liberal democracy in addition to open markets and states. Rajan suggests that communities serve as an indispensable part of a healthy economic society in stark contrast to a key source of market frictions (which may inhibit the smooth operation of the global economy). In recent times, both Brexit and the electoral successes of Donald Trump have shaken the dismal science. Prominent economists begin to consider what can constitute an efficient response to regional economic inequality. For instance, Lawrence Summers and his co-authors empirically demonstrate that both employment subsidies and tax credits should target U.S. regions with more elastic labor participation.

As open markets and states interact with socioeconomic webs of human relations, values, and norms, technological phase shifts tend to rip markets out of those old webs with populist backlashes through human history. Socioeconomic interactions eventually gravitate toward a new equilibrium with a messy and arduous transition. When markets and states scale up, political clout and economic power concentrate in vibrant hubs that prosper to the detriment of peripheral communities. Democracy preserves market competition, and open market competition preserves democracy. Rajan proposes strengthening communities as an antidote to new socioeconomic challenges.

 


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