Reforming Capitalism for the Common Good


Reforming Capitalism for the Common Good

Essays in Institutional and Post-Keynesian Economics

9781803926285 Edward Elgar Publishing
Charles J. Whalen, Research Fellow, The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, US
Publication Date: 2022 ISBN: 978 1 80392 628 5 Extent: 400 pp
In this book of carefully selected essays, Charles Whalen presents constructive analyses of vital economic problems confronting the United States since the 1970s, giving special attention to challenges facing working families. The analyses are grounded in Whalen’s career of more than three decades, during which he has gleaned insight from institutional and post-Keynesian economics and contributed to national economic policy-making, equitable regional development, and worker engagement in business decisions. The result is a compelling case for reforming capitalism by addressing workers’ interests as an integral part of the common good, and for reconstructing economics in the direction of post-Keynesian institutionalism.

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This book of selected essays presents constructive analyses of vital economic problems confronting the United States since the 1970s, giving special attention to challenges facing working families. The analyses, produced by Charles Whalen over three decades, address the causes and consequences of macroeconomic instability, job offshoring, community economic dislocation, financialization, and income inequality. They also explore the various dimensions of worker insecurity and underscore the dynamics of an ever-changing economy. The result is a compelling case for reforming capitalism by addressing workers’ interests as an integral part of the common good, and for reconstructing economics in the direction of post-Keynesian institutionalism.

Whalen’s reformist approach builds not only on the institutional economics of John R. Commons, but also on the post-Keynesianism of Hyman Minsky, who stressed that society should be democratic and humane. To that end, the book gives attention to policy-making processes as well as policy details.

Scholars and students of economics and labor studies will appreciate the incisive analyses and real-world focus. Historians and economic sociologists will be interested in the book’s attention to the evolution of US capitalism; and policy analysts and concerned citizens will welcome its emphasis on economic reform and optimistic vision for our economic future.
Critical Acclaim
‘This is an outstanding collection relevant to a large audience. A talent Whalen has demonstrated throughout his career is the ability to undertake complex economic analysis in approachable prose, making this text relevant and accessible. Its pluralist approach broadens the potential audience, overcoming disciplinary silos. Its accessibility makes this an excellent option for those teaching undergraduate courses, wanting their students to get a deep understanding of the works of Commons, Minsky, and ultimately a Post-Keynesian Institutionalist approach without having to wade through many primary texts. This text offers a starting point for graduate students, early career academics, and anyone interested in gaining a deep understanding of Post-Keynesian Institutional analysis.’
– Jacob Powell, Review of Keynesian Economics

‘Long before the problems of increasing inequality and worker insecurity captured the attention of the mainstream, Charles Whalen’s work offered unique insights into these problems. Deploying a synthesis of institutional and post-Keynesian economics, which he helped develop, Whalen identifies the culprits: financialization and the rise of money manager capitalism. This volume will delight the reader with a rich historical and evolutionary analysis of the most pressing issues of our time.’
– Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Bard College and Levy Economics Institute, US

‘The essays in Charles Whalen''s book are a thoughtful and original exploration of institutional and post-Keynesian economics. Whalen draws fresh insights from the writings of John R. Commons, Hyman Minsky, and others, offering them as correctives to the anomic libertarianism of mainstream economics. Throughout his career, Whalen has honed his analytical approach to devise economic policies for a more stable and equitable economy.’
– Sanford M. Jacoby, University of California, Los Angeles, US

‘Shortcomings of contemporary capitalism in the US and beyond confront us crisis after crisis. Extending Veblen, Commons, Keynes, Minsky and other institutionalists, Whalen offers a pathway towards a reformed capitalism, consistent with democracy, the common good and advancing worker well-being. This collection is essential reading on heterodox economics explanations of economic insecurity, inequality and how to address the consequences of neoliberalism and financialization through stakeholder engagement in public policy formulation.’
– Robin Mansell, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

‘The articles and essays collected in this volume offer an original and insightful perspective on contemporary economic debates. They develop a way of thinking about the economy almost totally eclipsed in the last several decades by neoliberal market fundamentalism. The book is written in a language which is easily accessible to the layman, but is also a serious scholarly endeavor, which seeks to bridge the gap between microeconomics and the macroeconomic theory that grew out of Keynes''s General Theory, a gap the bulk of the profession has tried to overcome with an increasingly arcane market theory.’
– Michael J. Piore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

‘This volume brings together 30 years of perceptive essays by Charles Whalen that, taken together, exhibit the breadth and depth of his thinking. Whalen keeps a steady focus on real world challenges facing American workers—challenges that rhyme over the decades if they don’t exactly repeat—and on policy reforms that would improve their well-being.’
– Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research, US

‘Whalen draws on a wealth of experience as researcher, journalist and policy analyst to offer a reconstructed blend of post-Keynesian institutional economics. That’s the right mix and definitely worth exploring.’
– Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, US

‘Charles Whalen, one of the very rare co-authors of Hyman Minsky, is among the main representatives of the institutionalist strand of post-Keynesian economics. Here, inspired by John R. Commons and Minsky, he offers 30 years of reflections and engagement about the evolution of capitalist economies and their economic policies.’
– Marc Lavoie, University of Ottawa, Canada and University of Sorbonne Paris Nord, France


Foreword Glen Atkinson

1. Reforming capitalism: economics at the crossroads of institutionalism and post-Keynesianism

2. Economics must change: workforce insecurity and the need for a new political economy
3. The institutional approach to political economy
4. Post-Keynesian economics: a pluralistic alternative to conventional economics

5. Economic insecurity and the problem-solving approach of John R. Commons
6. Saving capitalism by making it good: the monetary economics of John R. Commons
7. Social security: a view from beyond the beltway
8. Sending jobs offshore from the United States: what are the consequences?
9. Social unionism in western New York: the case of the Economic Development Group
10. Full employment with liberty: John R. Commons’s perspective and its continuing relevance
11. Human resources: the key to institutional economics after the Great Recession
12. John R. Commons and government as employer of last resort: three paths to a progressive right to work
13. The “middle way” of John R. Commons: pursuing reasonable value in the age of unreason

14. Stabilizing the unstable economy: Minsky and Simons on business cycle theory and policy
15. Budget amendment offers toxin, not tonic
16. Destabilizing an unstable economy: the erosion of automatic stabilizers Co-authored by Jeffrey Wenger
17. Money manager capitalism and the end of shared prosperity
18. Integrating Schumpeter and Keynes: Hyman Minsky’s theory of capitalist development
19. Money manager capitalism: still here, but not quite as expected
20. A Minsky perspective on the global recession of 2009
21. Economic policy for the real world
22. Minsky goes to Buffalo—and takes on the economics establishment

23. Post‑Keynesian institutionalism: past, present, and future
24. The post-Keynesian institutionalism of Wallace Peterson
25. Financialization and income inequality: a post-Keynesian institutionalist analysis Co-authored by David A. Zalewski
26. Post-Keynesian institutionalism and the failure of neoliberalism

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