This has several dimensions In the United States the loss of millions of

This has several dimensions in the united states the

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This has several dimensions. In the United States, the loss of millions of people’s mortgages, while not one single perpetrator of the financial crisis went to jail (not to mention the finance industry was bailed out, not common folk’s mortgages), is one stark inflection point. Another aspect is manifested by the loss of jobs to China and other low-wage countries, mainly from the late 1990s to about 2010, and by relatively flat middle-class wages or slow wage growth since the late 1970s. More recently, the vast majority of job displacement has been caused by automation/technology, though in the public mind, reflected in the views of President Trump and many in Congress, it continues to be blamed on trade.
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24 THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY WINTER 2019 There is also a nativist element, reflected in anti- immigration views. This is partly economic—for exam- ple, the perception that “Mexicans are taking our jobs”— but also partly cultural and demographic. It is not a coincidence that this anti-immigrant senti- ment along with more visible white nationalist/suprem- acist views, exploited by both candidate and President Trump, occurs amidst historic demographic change in the United States. In some states such as California and Texas, minority numbers rival or surpass the white majority. This is a national trend. In 1965, 85 percent of Americans were white. Now that number is 60 percent, and various projections suggest that sometime between 2040–2055 minorities will become the majority. This adds a cultural dimension, with more people speaking Spanish, or other languages. One can imagine the popular reactions to non-white Muslims speaking Somali or Amharic in downtown Minneapolis. Historically, populist movements have been fod- der for the rise of authoritarian, charismatic politicians. Germany in the 1920s and 1930s comes to mind. Trump, for example, is a master showman of P.T. Barnum propor- tions, and has used fear of immigrants as a major source of garnering support. That this populism is occurring in the United States at a time of record low unemployment (less than 4 per- cent) and low inflation suggests that it is about more than economic grievances. In Europe, however, protracted slow growth and high unemployment—in the 10–12 per- cent range, and in the 25 percent range for youth—in many EU nations, combined with the massive refugee influx from the conflict in Syria and other conflict zones, has more predictably fueled populism of both the left and right. An additional factor in Europe is the widely held view that unaccountable Brussels bureaucrats have too much power. Another not inconsequential factor is the explosion of social media and the internet, and the decline of journal- ism as we have known it. Long gone are common sources of information—think pre-24/7 cable news when every- one watched the three networks. The slow but persistent death of newspapers and of fact-based news is lamentable.
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