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The Populist Paradox

When anti-establishment populists come to power, they implement a range of policies that lead to lower economic growth and fewer good jobs. And yet the angrier people become, the easier it is to persuade them that the media are biased, the experts are always wrong, and the facts are not the facts.

WASHINGTON, DC – To defeat populism requires coming to grips with a fundamental reality: bad economic policies no longer necessarily result in a government losing power. In fact, it is now entirely possible that irresponsible populists may actually strengthen their chances of being re-elected by making wilder and more impossible promises – and by causing more economic damage.

How did we get to this point, and what steps can we take to escape it as quickly as possible?

Powerful structural economic factors in recent decades – including automation, trade, and financial crisis – have left many people feeling neglected or ill-treated by those, on the right and the left, who have had control over economic policy. When anti-establishment populists come to power, however, they implement a range of policies that create uncertainty and discourage investment. And less investment means lower economic growth and fewer good jobs.

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