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Our rentier dominated economies


Macroeconomic textbooks are flawed for another very basic reason: the writers tend to uncritically accept the neoclassical treatment of land (i.e., nature) as just another factor input that responds to the price mechanism in the same way as does labor and capital goods. This is not the way changes in price affect the supply of land and land-like assets in the real world, which is dominated by land speculation and the hoarding of land assets in expectation of future gains. Joseph Stiglitz has in recent years been the most vocal in his calls for changes in law and taxation to eliminate rent-seeking from our economic system. However, even Stiglitz under-estimates the redistribution of income and wealth from producers to non-producing rentier interests. I have just reviewed a new volume of essays written in honor of Mason Gaffney (professor emeritus, University of California), probably the foremost land economist in the United States for the last fifty years. The book is titled "Rent Unmasked: How to Save the Global Economy and Build a Sustainable Future," edited by Fred Harrison, and published in London by Shepheard-Walwyn.
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