Both the Washington Post (1/22/17) and New York Times (1/22/17) had pieces about declining support for the left in France and the rise of a nationalist right in both Italy and France. Both pieces attributed the rise in support for the right to people losing from globalization, implying that this is some impersonal process that is causing these people to be losers.
In fact, the losers are suffering because of the insistence of the European Union that its members pursue austerity policies. These policies have led to almost a full decade of near-zero per capita GDP growth in France and a drop of more than 10 percent in per capita GDP in Italy. There is nothing inevitable about these policies; they are conscious choices of the political leaders in Europe.
It is incredible that both the Post and Times would neglect to mention the role of austerity in hurting workers. The disgust with elites is understandable.
Economist Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. A version of this post originally appeared on CEPR’s blog Beat the Press (1/23/17).
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