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The Politics of Despair

For the past 30 years, the American political consultant James Carville’s famous mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid,” has shaped our understanding of politics, especially in an election year. But politics has long since stopped responding to what is happening in the real world, including the economy.

BERLIN – Public opinion about the world today is oddly bifurcated. Big industrial economies, including China, are gripped by a generalized mood of fear and doubt, even though many individuals correctly suspect that they themselves are doing well (it is “everyone else” who is doing terribly). Markets are hitting new highs as political and investor sentiment run in opposite directions. Politics is suffused with pessimism, while the economy brims with energy.