Jeremy Corbyn’s Necessary Agenda

BRIGHTON – Seven economists (including Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty, and me) have agreed to become economic advisers to Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the British Labour Party. I hope we will have a shared goal to help Labour shape an economic policy that is investment-led, inclusive, and sustainable. We will bring different ideas to the table, but these are my thoughts on the kind of progressive agenda the United Kingdom – and the rest of the world – now needs.

When the Labour Party lost the election last May, it received considerable criticism – even from its own frontbenchers – for failing to embrace the business community as “wealth creators.” But while businesses clearly create wealth, so do workers, public institutions, and civil-society organizations, which, through dynamic partnerships, drive long-term growth and productivity. Indeed, a progressive economic agenda must begin with the recognition that wealth creation is a collective process and that market outcomes are the product of how these various “wealth creators” interact.

We must drop the false dichotomy of governments versus markets and begin to think more clearly about the market outcomes we want. There is plenty to learn from public investments that were mission-oriented, instead of focused on “facilitating” or “incentivizing” business. Policy should actively shape and create markets, not just fix them when they go wrong.

Indeed, policies traditionally considered “business friendly,” such as tax credits and lower tax rates, can be bad for business in the long run if they limit governments’ future ability to invest in areas that increase innovation-led growth. Likewise, it is time to move on from the debate over austerity to a new conversation about how to build smart, mutually beneficial public-private partnerships to fuel decades of growth.