Virtual Event: Martin SandbuThe Economics of Belonging: A Radical Plan to Win Back the Left Behind and Achieve Prosperity for All

Host: Reform

In the decade since the financial crash, citizens across much of the West have been losing faith in capitalism. In the UK, two thirds of people believe that in capitalist economies the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. There is a strong sense that the system is ‘rigged’. Soaring executive pay coupled with stagnating wages, widening wealth and geographic inequality, successive tax avoidance scandals, and the rise of the precariat all appear to prove that point.

Coronavirus has exacerbated this sense of unfairness, with the health and economic impacts of the virus hitting ‘left behind’ and poorer communities hardest – exacerbating inequalities. There have been calls for the Government to tie its massive fiscal stimulus to redrawing the social contract between business, individuals and the state.

This event will consider what a new social contract might look like, and what opportunities exist to rebalance in the process of rebuilding?

Confirmed panellists:

  • Nick Timothy, former Joint Downing Street Chief of Staff
  • Martin Sandbu, European Economics Commentator, Financial Times
  • Rt Hon Caroline Flint, former Cabinet Minister

About the Book

Fueled by populism and the frustrations of the disenfranchised, the past few years have witnessed the widespread rejection of the economic and political order that Western countries built up after 1945. Political debates have turned into violent clashes between those who want to “take their country back” and those viewed as defending an elitist, broken, and unpatriotic social contract. There seems to be an increasing polarization of values. The Economics of Belonging argues that we should step back and take a fresh look at the root causes of our current challenges. In this original, engaging book, Martin Sandbu argues that economics remains at the heart of our widening inequality and it is only by focusing on the right policies that we can address it. He proposes a detailed, radical plan for creating a just economy where everyone can belong.

Sandbu demonstrates that the rising numbers of the left behind are not due to globalization gone too far. Rather, technological change and flawed but avoidable domestic policies have eroded the foundations of an economy in which everyone can participate—and would have done so even with a much less globalized economy. Sandbu contends that we have to double down on economic openness while pursuing dramatic reforms involving productivity, regional development, support for small- and medium-sized businesses, and increased worker representation. He discusses how a more active macroeconomic policy, education for all, universal basic income, and better taxation of capital could work together for society’s benefit.

Offering real answers, not invective, for facing our most serious political issues, The Economics of Belonging shows how a better economic system can work for all.

Martin Sandbu has been writing about economics for the Financial Times since 2009. Having started out as the newspaper’s economics leader writer, he is currently FT’s European economics commentator and writes its Free Lunch premium economics newsletter. Previously, he was a senior research fellow at the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Just Business and Europe’s Orphan (Princeton). Twitter @MESandbu