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Finally, populism (leftwing of course) is not that bad


Jean-Pierre Dumas

February 15, 2021


We use the Rodrik's interview, in the FT, February 15, 2021, to make a comment on populism.

According to D. Rodrik (Economic Professor at Harvard),

I would say that we probably do need a good dose of leftwing populism today to save us, really, from the very damaging and ultimately much more scary rightwing version’’

The fight against (rigthwing) populism will not come from adopting leftwing populism, this is nothing else than policy of making things worse. There is not a left or rightwing populism, populism cut across extremist policy, right and left. What populism is?


Populism consists to jump from the facts to the solution without using (economic) concepts.

  • We face competition from China, no problem let’s slap taxes on Chinese imports (Trump) and say that the source of our deficiency is globalization.

  • We have a financial crisis, no problem, nationalize banks or control them to cancel profit in the financial sector (B. Senders in the US, J.L. Mélenchon in France).

  • We have too many immigrants, no problem, built a wall, a big, a beautiful wall (Trump), expel all illegal immigrants, without human consideration, out of the national territory (D. Trump, Mme Le Pen).

  • There are not enough (good, whatever it means) jobs, no problem reduce working time to spare a bit of jobs for all (Mme Delors, Mr. Strauss Kahn under Mitterrand); raise the minimum wages (French and US politicians).

  • Public debt is not sustainable, no problem don’t pay these capitalists (Mélenchon in France) and continue to make deficit in good or bad times (Keynesian economists).

  • Keynesianism is also a kind of economic populism, the only economic policy they have to propose for all seasons is fiscal deficits (to make deficits during an economic crisis is right, to make deficits to micromanage the cycle through a permanent deficit is not correct from a sustainability point of view, (concept missing with Keynesian economists).

  • We have social needs, green conversion needs not yet financed, no problem, make deficits to finance our always bigger welfare state, it will be financed at no cost through monetary financing (thanks to the New Monetary Policy).

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