TRENTO FESTIVAL OF ECONOMICS Growth and the Ruling Classes

kruegerBy Daniel Reichel

“We must have the courage to say that either politics goes back to doing its job or the economic argument is worthless.” said the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, opening the third day of the FestivalEconomia (Festival of Economics) in Trento. The Prime Minister didn’t want to miss the ninth edition of the Festival, which opened on Friday and where, for the second year in a row, Pagine Ebraiche is a participant. The newspaper of Italian Jewry is distributed by the organization of the festival at the information points and atthe main locations where the festival is taking place, and the hundreds of copies distributed have prove to be insufficient, bring that they ran out just a few hours after the opening.

This month, Pagine Ebraiche offers a Jewish perspective on the major issues in current political and economic affairs and it has dedicated a special dossier to the subject “Markets and values”. In these pages we can find some of the great protagonists of the FestivalEconomia, such as Alan Krueger, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Bendheim, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Interviewed by Pagine Ebraiche. Professor Krueger told the newspaper of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities about the American policy for the future: “In the U.S. – said Krueger – we strive to have a classless society”. Another question was related to the growing inequality in the world society (in the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks “the market economy is very good at wealth creation but not perfect at all about wealth distribution”). “I can only speak for the U.S.- told Pagine Ebraiche the former economic councellor of president Barack Obama – In the U.S., tax policy (e.g., closing loopholes) could play an important role in reducing inequality. I also think that a moderate raise in the minimum wage, a focus on failing communities, and broader access to public services, such as universal preschool education, could help to reduce inequality, in the short run and long run”.

Another subject addressed in the dossier “Markets and values” is the European political situation and the concern about the success of populist and xenophobic parties. “The European institutions and the ruling class have to find an answer to this situation, to renew the unstable democracy”, said the French political analyst Marc Lazar to Pagine Ebraiche, a concept repeated during the FestivalEconomia. “We are very worried about what happened in Brussels” said the former president of the European Parliament Josep Borrell Fontelles, referring to the May 24th fatal attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Borrell, answering to Pagine Ebraiche, said that the institutions have to work to limit the growing rage in Europe.