Discussion paper

DP16515 Shrinking capitalism: Components of a new political economy paradigm

The climate emergency, rising inequality, and pandemic diffusion have raised the question: for what purpose is capitalism fit? Implementing new policies and institutions to meet these challenges will require a realignment of political forces on a scale similar to that achieved by neoliberal policies and ideas over the past four decades. We suggest that a successful new paradigm must provide the basis of a dynamic and sustainable economy and be constituted by a synergistic set of ethical commitments, economic models, emblematic policies, and a new vernacular economics by which people understand and seek to improve their livelihoods and futures. We illustrate these four components by reference to the classical liberal, Keynesian-social democratic, and neoliberal paradigms. Using an expanded space for policies and institutions that integrates markets, states, and civil society, we propose elements of a new paradigm, including diminished space for capitalism and greater equality not only of economic endowments but also of dignity and voice.


Bowles, S and W Carlin (2021), ‘DP16515 Shrinking capitalism: Components of a new political economy paradigm‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16515. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16515