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Home News Building a progressive economy for the 21st century

Building a progressive economy for the 21st century

30 November 2015
Building a progressive economy for the 21st century

Policy Network publishes a series of essays contributing to a programme of high-level policy and political seminars held in Berlin, Oxford and Paris earlier this year. Partners have included the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the SPD, the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, the Center for American Progress and the Foundation of European Progressive Studies (FEPS).

The essays put forward a distinctive view on the governing principles that should guide economic governance and modern politics in the light of major structural shifts resulting from technological changes and globalisation. As Florian Ranft writes in a framing piece, these trends offer great opportunities for progressives to reinvigorate the left’s inclusive approach to economic growth. However, this requires reforming the traditional institutions that have been in place to protect the vulnerable and reinventing workers protection.

In a lead contribution, the former UK shadow chancellor Ed Balls argues that a model of ‘inclusive prosperity’ in the 21st century demands greater adjustment efforts by the centre-left. Learning from the third way’s shortcomings, progressives should live up to the reality of widening income inequalities and global technological disruption. They have to defend an agenda that promotes skills for everyone, tougher global regulation on taxes and a new concept of industrial policy.

As a way to overcome political economy failures, Adam Lent more radically suggests breaking with traditional ‘too big’ corporate and state structures. Instead, the state should become “a rule setter for an economy built around a vast multiplicity of well-capitalised and well-incentivised small initiatives, innovations and enterprises”.  

Attracting funding for growing industries and businesses represents another challenge for Europe’s crippling economies. The EU’s financial system is not running on full steam compared to the US. Carlotta de Franceschi argues that the core of reform is to combine the benefits of deepening and integrating financial markets, moving Europe away from its bank-centred financing model.

Finally, progressives should concern themselves with the new geography of jobs. Thor Berger highlights the dangers of regions drifting apart in times of technological change. They should embrace reforms that promote skills and reduce hardship for people living in stagnating or relegated areas. There is ample room for a regional policy striking a balance between decentralised decision-making and strong central government.

If we are to maintain public support for an open market economy, we need to address public concerns, promote competition and long-term investment
How can progressives create more equal economies without the support of the redistributive or planning state and benevolent corporations?
How can progressive parties develop a common reform agenda that attracts finances for a sustainable recovery?
To bridge growing regional divides, policymakers must foster skills relevant to the hi-tech jobs of the 21st century
How can the centre-left build a new inclusive growth model that combines innovation and social justice?


Photo credits:
Collin Anderson
Daniel Chapman

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