The 2010s were a triumph of neoliberalism

While the 2010s did lead to a stunning collapse in classical liberal thinking (of the type exemplified most prominently by Glenn Greenwald), with the exceptions of the Arab world and North Korea (both far less classically liberal than most countries), it has led to no real threats to the economic doctrine of neoliberalism.

Consider patterns in economic growth across the world:

*Within the E.U.-15, the major country that experienced the fastest growth was Germany. Relatively neoliberal Denmark saw even faster productivity growth. The greatest economic disaster was in the very anti-neoliberal Greece. Relatively neoliberal Spain had the fastest growth of the PIGS.

*Within Eastern Europe, relatively neoliberal Baltics, Poland, and Romania had much faster growth than the relatively anti-neoliberal Russia and Belarus. Russians do not want to be like Poland or the Baltics; they want their country to be as rich as Germany. But they see very clearly the quickest way to get there is through Baltic and Polish means. And surely they are embarrassed that they have fallen behind Romania.

*Within China, the more marketized South has grown faster than the more industrial North, with the Northeast growing slowest of all. In Japan, Abenomics is widely seen as a success, though the country has fallen behind Korea in GDP by PPP per capita, though not per worker hour. In 2019, despite an age structure much more skewed to retirees, Japan ended up with the same employment-population ratio as the U.S. The Japanese productivity stagnation has been widely, and largely correctly been blamed on lack of structural reform.

*The neoliberal tendencies of the 1990s and 2000s in the third world have generally worked out well for these countries in the 2010s, so there is no reason for them to change course.

*The U.S. did not see slower per capita growth than the E.U.-15 (it had faster productivity growth, but fell behind several E.U.-15 countries in employment-population ratio -only this last is an anti-neoliberal blow, though not a major one).

This is a far cry from the 1930s, when the fastest-growing major economies in the world were the extremely state-led Japan and the Soviet Union, and the fastest recovery from the Great Depression within the E.U.-15 was in Nazi Germany. As a result, China and Russia both took pro-market steps during the 2010s. Boris Johnson is fairly neoliberal.

There is also no strong reason to expect skepticism of markets to rise among the highly intelligent. The most exciting developments in technology have all come from the market.

Similarly, there is no reason to expect central banks to significantly exceed their inflation targets, though there is some reason to expect them to better meet them.

There is reason to expect the fiscal indiscipline of the 2010s to continue, mostly due to the unpopularity of tax increases. But this will come to an end at some point.

As for the 2020s -expect 2010s trends to continue, though not as severely.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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