Reflections on Progress: Essays on the Global Political Economy

In This Review

Reflections on Progress: Essays on the Global Political Economy
By Kemal Dervis
Brookings Institution Press, 2016
208 pp.

In these collected essays, Dervis combines the expertise of an economist with the sensibilities of an enlightened social democrat to ruminate on the troubles of contemporary capitalism. He highlights growing anxiety about poverty, unemployment, inequality, and the extreme concentration of wealth and laments that Western governments seem incapable of developing more socially and economically inclusive growth models. At each turn, Dervis looks for possibilities for reform through tax policy, regulation, and social spending. If the technology-driven growth that has propelled the global economy forward for the last century is now ending, as Robert Gordon and other economists argue, then the prospects for progress are grim. Dervis is less pessimistic, however, and he pins his hopes on a renaissance in democratic institutions and revitalized social contracts. For Dervis, progress has not ended. Rather, understandings of progress must change to allow for forms of economic development that are more sustainable and equitable. He makes a convincing case for reform, but he does not answer a significant question: Where are the reformers?