Economic Elites, Crises and 21st Century Capitalism
21st century capitalism has led to a growing concentration of economic power and political influence in the hands of small elites. Nowadays, economic elites control the bulk of income and wealth; reduce competition; worsen inequality; and make the democratic system very dependent on the corrosive power of money. At the same time, the middle class has become a fragmented and vulnerable segment in society and the traditional working class is largely marginalised. This system also has led to a growing frequency of financial crises followed by costly austerity policies in the global north, although the risks of crisis for the south have not disappeared.
An alternative to the current travails is a new approach of economic democracy that seeks a better distribution of productive assets and opportunities among the population; restores financial and social stability; reduces the power of supra-national financial organisations; gives more voice and participation to the people in the design and monitoring of economic and social policies; and allow individuals, irrespective of their income level and social position, to exploit their talents, abilities and initiatives.
Dr Andrés Solimano is founder and Chairman of the International Center for Globalization and Development, a Professor of Economics at the Economics and Business School at Universidad Mayor in Chile, and author of Economic Elites, Crises and Democracy.