Contemporary economics: A sinking ship? (Credit: digitalista/Bigstock)
Contemporary economics: A sinking ship? (Credit: digitalista/Bigstock)

How is the financial crisis of 2008 linked to the election results of 2016?  How can economic reform address this systemic malaise? How can people be empowered to determine their own futures? Fred Harrison’s paper addresses issues of land and property cycles, capital formation, land rents, and VAT, as well as migration and the rise of Donald Trump. Harrison argues that two new statistics are needed to enhance the accountability of policy-makers and provide transparency in the administration of the public’s finances. The course of the current contest over the control of power, says Harrison, will depend on access to this information.

Executive Summary

The financial crisis of 2008, which exposed how some of the West’s major banks were driven into bankruptcy, ought to have been a historic turning point in western civilisation. For eight years, the political elites managed to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach by containing the crisis. The protests – notably, the Occupy movement – lacked the conceptual tools with which to inspire a vision of a better future. But then, in 2016, something remarkable happened.

Using the ballot box, people registered a level of discontent that the political elites could no longer ignore. The dispute over the future is now being played out as a contest over the collective consciousness. The fulfilment of people’s aspirations will depend on how language is re-shaped to facilitate the interrogation of the systemic malaise and on the scope for remedial action. The struggle has begun for the control of people’s minds, either to limit the changes to the structure of power or to empower people to determine their future.

To facilitate the optimum outcome, and elevate the quality of geopolitical discourse, two new statistics are needed. This information would improve governance by enhancing the accountability of policy-makers and transparency in the administration of the public’s finances. The willingness of the political elites to provide that information may determine the course of the contest over the control of power.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, its co-founders, or its staff members.

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Fred Harrison
Fred Harrison (born 1944) is a British author, economic commentator and corporate policy advisor, he is Research Director of the London-based Land Research Trust. He is notable for his stances on land reform and belief that an over reliance on land, property and mortgage weakens economic structures and makes companies vulnerable to economic collapse. His first book, The Power in the Land (1983), predicted the economic crisis of 1992. He followed this with a 10-year forecast (published in The Chaos Makers [1997]) that a global financial crisis would be triggered when house prices peaked in 2007. He studied economics at Oxford, first at Ruskin College and then at University College, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. His MSc is from the University of London. Fred’s first career was in newspaper journalism, most notably at The People newspaper, where he became chief reporter. After a move to Economics, initially as Director of the Centre for Incentive Taxation, he spent 10 years in Russia advising their Federal Parliament (Duma) and local authorities on property tax reform and establishment of land markets. Since his return to the UK he has worked as a corporate business advisor, research director, writer and lecturer. Harrison is inspired by the writings of American political economist, Henry George. He has written for a number of newspapers and magazines and his books are widely distributed.