Disparate Models, Desperate Measures: The Convergence of Limits

  • Travis Fast


In the wake of the ‘long downturn’ that began in the early 1970s, the relative positions occupied by a number of advanced capitalist economies in the various league tables that measure economic performance began to slide. As they did so, an international search began for an appropriate ‘model of capitalism’ which in whole or part might correct this slippage. Japan, Sweden and Germany quickly became frontrunners for emulation — seemingly capable of generating relatively low unemployment and inflation, coupled with high productivity and growth — but by the early 1990s, Japan, and Sweden had fallen out of the running and even the shine of post-unification Germany had begun to dull. The relative reversal in the fortunes of the emulative models of the 1980s then brought about a temporary lull in the debate over emulation during the mid-1990s. For a while, not only was there seemingly a lack of emulative models, but there was also a recognition among scholars of the general impossibility of grafting institutions from one national social formation onto another. However, the question of emulation is once again back on the table. This time it is the once-derided Anglo-American models — the US and the UK, and the miraculously ‘cured’ Dutch patient — that are now widely proffered as the new economies to copy.


Labour Market Welfare State Labour Force Participation Model Case Emulative Model 
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© Travis Fast 2005

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  • Travis Fast

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