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Inequality and Economic Growth

Economic policymakers can no longer afford to view inequality as an issue separate from boosting employment and incomes. Addressing it through a wealth tax, combined with more effective antitrust policies and enforcement, has become essential to sustaining economic growth, including by encouraging the creation and growth of new business.

WASHINGTON, DC – In previous eras, top economic decision-makers considered inequality to be distinct from the main concerns of macroeconomic policy. Since the Industrial Revolution, the general view has been that, on average, people want higher incomes and a larger number of good jobs – and that the best way to achieve these goals is through faster economic growth. Not surprisingly, therefore, much thought has been devoted to the question of how to design and run monetary and fiscal policies that can sustain higher aggregate growth rates.

Inequality was regarded as a separate issue, which could be addressed at the margin through making net taxes more or less progressive. Rich people would contribute a higher share of their total incomes to the public finances than would the middle class.

It is increasingly apparent that there are three main problems with this view of the world, at least as it applies to the modern United States. All three are made fully apparent in Heather Boushey’s brilliant new book, Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It.

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