NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Will A Slowdown In Growth Prompt Anti-Market Solutions?

September 7, 2000

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has warned that as recent technological innovations approach their limits and economic growth drops to more historic levels, restrictive economic theories may gain credibility and ascendancy.

While policy makers and the general public now tend to accept freer markets -- rather than government intervention -- as the way to increase prosperity, some free-market advocates are concerned that policies favoring privatization, deregulation, lower taxes, open international markets and reduced government spending may be abandoned even in these prosperous times.

  • But those who oppose trade, competition and economic dynamism have not gone away -- and it is only a question of when they will reassert themselves.
  • Those who fear an ideological backlash against free markets point out that boredom, complacency, and larger amounts of leisure and disposable income accompanying prosperity can also create fertile ground for discontent and disdain for free economic institutions.
  • They cite the fact that those who campaign against global trade are often the products of affluent communities -- and the protesters are not motivated by concern for the poor, but rather their disdain for an economy of abundance.

Rebelling against their own American comforts, the new crusaders for statism and less consumption forget the world's poor still aspire to a better life, critics charge.

Source: Virginia Postrel (Reason), "Economic Scene: It's Good Times, Not Bad, That Nurture the Enemies of the Free Market," New York Times, September 7, 2000.


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