Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen is Professor of Economics at the École Normale Supérieure and the Université de Paris-I. A member of the Council of Economic Analysis of the French Prime Minister, he is the author of The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations, Our Modern Times: The Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age, Globalization and Its Enemies, and Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society, all published by the MIT Press.

  • The Prosperity of Vice

    The Prosperity of Vice

    A Worried View of Economics

    Daniel Cohen

    How violence, rather than peace, has historically accompanied prosperity; and why emerging nations seem poised to repeat the tragic history of the industrialized world.

    What happened yesterday in the West is today being repeated on a global scale. Industrial society is replacing rural society: millions of peasants in China, India, and elsewhere are leaving the countryside and going to the city. New powers are emerging and rivalries are exacerbated as competition increases for control of raw materials. Contrary to what believers in the “clash of civilizations” maintain, the great risk of the twenty-first century is not a confrontation between cultures but a repetition of history. In The Prosperity of Vice, the influential French economist Daniel Cohen shows that violence, rather than peace, has been the historical accompaniment to prosperity. Peace in Europe came only after the barbaric wars of the twentieth century, not as the outcome of economic growth. What will happen this time for today's eagerly Westernizing emerging nations?

    Cohen guides us through history, describing the European discovery of the “philosopher's stone”: the possibility of perpetual growth. But the consequences of addiction to growth are dire in an era of globalization. If a billion Chinese consume a billion cars, the future of the planet is threatened. But, Cohen points out, there is another kind of globalization: the immaterial globalization enabled by the Internet. It is still possible, he argues, that the cyber-world will create a new awareness of global solidarity. It even may help us accomplish a formidable cognitive task, as immense as that realized during the Industrial Revolution—one that would allow us learn to live within the limits of a solitary planet.

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  • Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society

    Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society

    Daniel Cohen

    A noted economist analyzes the upheavals caused by revolutions in technology, labor, culture, financial markets, and globalization.

    In this pithy and provocative book, noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial “society.” The solidarity that once lay at the heart of industrial society no longer exists. The different levels of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, apart from the workers. Employees are left exposed while shareholders act to protect themselves. Never has the awareness that we all live in the same world been so strong—and never have the social conditions of existence been so unequal. In these wide-ranging reflections, Cohen describes the transformations that signaled the break between the industrial and the post-industrial eras. He links the revolution in information technology to the trend toward flatter hierarchies of workers with multiple skills—and connects the latter to work practices growing out of the culture of the May 1968 protests. Subcontracting and outsourcing have also changed the nature of work, and Cohen succinctly analyzes the new international division of labor, the economic rise of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, and the economic effects of free trade on poor countries. Finally, Cohen examines the fate of the European social model—with its traditional compromise between social justice and economic productivity—in a post-industrial world.

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  • Globalization and Its Enemies

    Globalization and Its Enemies

    Daniel Cohen

    A provocative argument that the frustrations of globalization stem from the gap between the expectations created and the lagging economic reality in poor countries.

    The enemies of globalization—whether they denounce the exploitation of poor countries by rich ones or the imposition of Western values on traditional cultures—see the new world economy as forcing a system on people who do not want it. But the truth of the matter, writes Daniel Cohen in this provocative account, may be the reverse. Globalization, thanks to the speed of twenty-first-century communications, shows people a world of material prosperity that they do want—a vivid world of promises that have yet to be fulfilled. For the most impoverished developing nations, globalization remains only an elusive image, a fleeting mirage. Never before, Cohen says, have the means of communication—the media—created such a global consciousness, and never have economic forces lagged so far behind expectations. Today's globalization, Cohen argues, is the third act in a history that began with the Spanish Conquistadors in the sixteenth century and continued with Great Britain's nineteenth-century empire of free trade. In the nineteenth century, as in the twenty-first, a revolution in transportation and communication did not promote widespread wealth but favored polarization. India, a part of the British empire, was just as poor in 1913 as it was in 1820. Will today's information economy do better in disseminating wealth than the telegraph did two centuries ago? Presumably yes, if one gauges the outcome from China's perspective; surely not, if Africa's experience is a guide. At any rate, poor countries require much effort and investment to become players in the global game. The view that technologies and world trade bring wealth by themselves is no more true today than it was two centuries ago. We should not, Cohen writes, consider globalization as an accomplished fact. It is because of what has yet to happen—the unfulfilled promises of prosperity—that globalization has so many enemies in the contemporary world. For the poorest countries of the world, the problem is not so much that they are exploited by globalization as that they are forgotten and excluded.

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  • The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations

    The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations

    Daniel Cohen

    Cohen argues that our own propensity for transforming the nature of work has created a niche for globalization and given it an ominous dimension, causing some to reject it. Pursuing this erroneous line of thought will place the battle for social welfare "on the sidelines" when it should be fought "on the inside."

    The present situation, in which poor nations are becoming richer and rich nations poorer, gives credence to the idea that the former phenomenon is responsible for the latter. The great fear of many in the West is that trade with India, China, or the former Soviet Union will cause a collapse of the welfare state and of society's well-being."Globalization" has become a loaded term. Should we believe, literally, that trade with poor nations can be blamed for our "impoverishment"? In this book, Daniel Cohen claims that there is practically no foundation for such an alarmist position. We need to reverse the commonly held view that globalization has caused today's insecure labor market. On the contrary, Cohen argues, our own propensity for transforming the nature of work has created a niche for globalization and given it an ominous dimension, causing some to reject it. Pursuing this erroneous line of thought will place the battle for social welfare "on the sidelines" when it should be fought "on the inside." Such errors in analysis must not persist; as Cohen says, the stakes are too high.

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  • Misfortunes of Prosperity

    Misfortunes of Prosperity

    An Introduction to Modern Political Economy

    Daniel Cohen

    Elucidates the current debates on these and other questions in a fast-paced and incisive tour of the dominant ideas in political economy, summarizing historical and theoretical perspectives on the causes of economic growth in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and elsewhere as the twentieth-century draws to a close.

    Translated by Jacqueline Lindenfeld Are robust economic growth and tight social cohesion something of the past, or is contemporary stagnation simply part of a long economic cycle that is bound to bring brighter days? Should government step in to boost productivity and income, or does economic globalization necessitate a new laissez-faire model for the twenty-first century? The Misfortunes of Prosperity elucidates the current debates on these and other questions in a fast-paced and incisive tour of the dominant ideas in political economy, summarizing historical and theoretical perspectives on the causes of economic growth in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and elsewhere as the twentieth-century draws to a close. Daniel Cohen discusses the effects of the showdown of productivity in Europe and the United States and explains the origin of the apparent tradeoff between unemployment in Europe and wage inequalities in the United States. On questions of economic policy and the competing academic views (new classical and Keynesian) of the efficacy of government intervention, Cohen inverts the Keynesian belief that government intervention causes growth, and explains why waves of government interventions (including wars) usually follow upward economic trends (rather than create it). But he also advocates government discretion rather than government neutrality by showing the disastrous consequences of hands off approach to debt, inflation, and social security.

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  • Private Lending to Sovereign States

    A Theoretical Autopsy

    Daniel Cohen

    In this illuminating work on external debt, Daniel Cohen explodes many myths currently popular among economists, bankers, and journalists about the nature of the debt problem, its origins, and its cure.

    By the end of the 1980s the total debt of developing countries had passed the trillion-dollar mark. What should be done when the debt is heavily discounted, and countries pass the point at which they decide to default rather than service the debt in full? In this illuminating work on external debt, Daniel Cohen explodes many myths currently popular among economists, bankers, and journalists about the nature of the debt problem, its origins, and its cure. He skillfully brings complex theoretical issues to bear on the analysis of practical questions of economic policy. What is needed, he proposes, are clear rules that acknowledge the market price of the debt and deflate the fiction that a highly indebted country is solvent. Using clear, simple analytical models to illustrate his points, Cohen offers a realistic measure of national solvency in an international context. He then applies the framework to an analysis of the major debtor countries and discusses budget constraints, debt repudiation, and the economic fragility of heavily indebted nations.

    Contents Intertemporal Budget Constraints • Can a Nation Escape Its Budget Constraint? Capacity versus Willingness to Pay • Voluntary and Involuntary Lending • A Solvency Index - Theory • Empirical Evaluation of the Solvency Index • Domestic and External Debt Constraints • The Fragility of Heavily Indebted Nations - Large Debt and Slow Growth

    • Hardcover $30.00