Varieties of Secular Stagnation

Lucio Baccaro and Puneet Bhasin (Gallatin School, New York University)

A specter of tepid growth and periodic crises haunts politicians, technocrats, and pundits alike: the specter of secular stagnation. Tackling secular stagnation strikes at the core of both comparative comparative political economy and international political economy. It not only helps to address the vexed question of whether there is one type of capitalism or many but also to conceive capitalism to be at once similar and dissimilar across nation-states depending on their positions in the international economy. We argue that secular stagnation highlights a common developmental trajectory in advanced capitalism and that this common trend is primarily the result of a fundamental shift in income distribution away from labor and towards capital, which has been ongoing for over four decades. At the same time, however, the response to this common underlying trend varies fundamentally across national capitalisms. The project aims to show this to be the case by analyzing the trajectory of the US and Germany, two complementary demand regimes which deliver periodic spurts of growth even when the trend is one of stagnation.

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