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Additional resources for Aftershocks: Economic Crisis and Institutional Choice
These regimes, which are known for reining in free markets with capital regulation, providing generous insurance benefits paired with high quality social services, maintaining stable industrial relations, and supporting comprehensive vocational training and education systems, seem to have been able to mitigate the hardship of the economic crisis. In the United States, where the stock market collapse has wiped out retirement savings and rising unemployment is leaving ever more people without health insurance, officials in President Barack Obama’s administration are looking towards recent pension and health care reforms in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland for inspiration.
In fact, the crisis is partially the result of the exclusive focus on economic growth. The formulation of a new portfolio of social and economic indicators (including, for example, various dimensions of adult numeracy and literacy, access to public services, poverty, environmental health, climate control) is especially politically opportune in the face of a period of lethargic and drawn-out recovery. GDP growth may no longer be an adequate proxy for ‘doing well’. To address this issue, in early 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy put together a committee of leading economists, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean Paul Fitoussi, to rethink GDP as an indicator of economic performance and to consider alternative indicators of social progress.
The neo-liberal rise to dominance was largely evolutionary; it emerged gradually through a series of institutional transformations and policy changes over a long period of time. In contrast to the traditional belief that institutional shifts are always marked by rapid changes at critical junctures, it can be expected that future institutional shifts are likely to follow the logic of incremental transformative change through institutional evolution. By comparison, the rise of embedded liberalism indeed represented a far more punctuated process of institution building.