FULFILLING THE BALLYHOO OF A PEAK ECONOMY? THE U.S. ECONOMIC MODEL
From the 1990s into the first decade of the 2000s, many economic analysts viewed the United States as the peak economy in the advanced world. This chapter offers a different interpretation of the U.S. experience. It argues that the standard reading of the U.S. experience ignores important aspects of the American model beyond flexibility and inequality. The section “U.S. Economic Performance” reviews the main areas of American economic success and failure. The following section “Rethinking the ‘Very Good’ of the U.S. System” argues that analyses of stress flexibility, deregulation of markets, and greater dispersion or inequality of pay as the hallmark of the U.S. economy miss the “shared capitalist” arrangements and private/public links that contribute to efficiency. The next section “Toward Broader Comparisons and Counterfactuals” notes that both English-speaking countries whose economic systems resemble those of the United States and continental EU economies that rely on social dialogue institutions, have had sufficiently variegated outcomes to gainsay any simple generalization about national economic models. Looking to the future, the chapter considers the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. and other economic models to surmount the problems likely to pose the greatest challenge in the next decade: those associated with global warming, energy, and the environment, and increased globalization of labor markets.
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