Average incomes have been going up steadily, but typical incomes have been stagnating or even falling, implying that most of the gains of growth have been captured by a minority – sometimes a very small minority. Nowadays, it seems, it is not more growth that we want, but more equality.
LONDON – The king of Bhutan wants to make us all happier. Governments, he says, should aim to maximize their people’s Gross National Happiness rather than their Gross National Product. Does this new emphasis on happiness represent a shift or just a passing fad?
It is easy to see why governments should de-emphasize economic growth when it is proving so elusive. The eurozone is not expected to grow at all this year. The British economy is contracting. Greece’s economy has been shrinking for years. Even China is expected to slow down. Why not give up growth and enjoy what we have?
No doubt this mood will pass when growth revives, as it is bound to. Nevertheless, a deeper shift in attitude toward growth has occurred, which is likely to make it a less important lodestar in the future – especially in rich countries.
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In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats.
Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.
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The Bollywood film Padmavati has inspired heated debate, hysterical threats of violence, and a ban in four states governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – all before its release. The tolerance that once accompanied India’s remarkable diversity is wearing thin these days.
The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?
The US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel comes in defiance of overwhelming global opposition. The message is clear: the Trump administration is determined to dictate the Israeli version of peace with the Palestinians, rather than to mediate an equitable agreement between the two sides.
The Year Ahead 2018
The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.