DURING the last US presidential election campaign, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton both promised to “protect” America against foreign imports. In Europe, right-wing populist politicians are gaining ground by claiming they will reduce immigration to create more jobs for local people. Left-wingers, meanwhile, promise to tackle growing wealth inequality by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. All these ideas reflect a shaky grasp of economics. Nevertheless, they are often attractive to voters. That is no accident.
Most of us have little or no education in economics, but that doesn’t stop us holding beliefs about all sorts of things from the benefits of international trade, the effects of immigration and the origins of inequality, to the power of big business, the consequences of regulation and whether the state should provide education, transport and healthcare. These “folk-economic” beliefs are often vague, incoherent or just plain wrong. But they are…
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Last modified: September 26, 2018