Panoeconomicus 2011 Volume 58, Issue 3, Pages: 285-308
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Limits of policy intervention in a world of neoliberal mechanism designs: Paradoxes of the global crisis

Dymski Gary A.

The current global context poses several paradoxes: the recovery from the 2009 recession was not a recovery; investment, normally driven by profit rates, is lagging and not leading economic activity; the crisis is global but debate involves sub-global levels; and public safety-nets, which have helped to stabilize national income, are being cut. These paradoxes can be traced, in part, to the impact of the “truce” that followed the Keynesian-Monetarist controversy on economists’ ideas about policy activism. This implicit “truce” has removed activist macro policy from discussion, and shifted attention toward institutions as mechanisms for solving game-theoretic coordination problems. Policy activism then centers on how the “agents” (nations) can achieve optimal use of their available resources (or optimal access to resources) at the global level; and this involves creating and fine-tuning compacts - neoliberal mechanism designs - that can capture rents and attract globally mobile capital. This approach leads economists to see the key problem in the current global crisis as fixing broken neoliberal mechanisms. However, a global economy dominated by mechanisms that feed on aggregate demand without generating it faces the prospect of stagnation or collapse.

Keywords: neoliberal mechanism design, policy activism, Keynesian-Monetarist controversy, globalization, Capital mobility, Hyman Minsky, Bradford De Long

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