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The Populist Advantage

Since the 2008 global financial crisis discredited the old liberal orthodoxy, the door has been open for simplistic policies, in part because most people tend to focus only on a policy’s first-order effects. Unfortunately, everyone will have to learn the hard way why such policies fell out of favor in the first place.

CHICAGO – Even in the best of times, policymakers find it difficult to explain complex issues to the public. But when they have the public’s trust, the ordinary citizen will say, “I know broadly what you are trying to do, so you don’t need to explain every last detail to me.” This was the case in many advanced economies before the global financial crisis, when there was a broad consensus on the direction of economic policy. While the United States placed greater emphasis on deregulation, openness, and expanding trade, the European Union was more concerned with market integration. In general, though, the liberal (in the classical British sense) orthodoxy prevailed.