The Unshackled Waves Ep. 142 Are Free Markets Out of Favour?


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On the latest episode of the Unshackled Waves I decide to do a solo show which hasn’t been a feature for quite a while. The issue is a question that has been on my mind for a quite a while, that being are free markets n0w falling out of favour?

I start by outlining how the free market consensus began in the West with Reagan, Thatcher and Hawke-Keating engaging in privatisation, deregulation and free trade. Despite a big government turn post the global financial crisis there was still much disdain of high government spending and expansive government programs. However, in Australia, this changed with the backlash to the first Abbott-Hockey budget, in the United States both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders believed in using the power of government to shape economic outcomes. In the UK Jeremy Corbyn once deemed unelectable is likely to be their next Prime Minister.

This move away from free markets is happening on both the left and right side of politics. Why is this so? It is due to free market advocates believing that the consensus would last forever, that the arguments in favour of markets did not have to be reinforced and that freedom would simply sell itself. Also, key stakeholders like business do not engage in much free-market advocacy. The way forward is that free market advocates need to make the case respectfully and also understand why people have become sceptical of markets. They also need to bide their time and propose their solutions at the right time and realize that public policy is a long game.

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