Category Archives: Harm through the market

Oligopolies and monopolies are very important ways of obtaining income without providing a productive service. They produce goods, a productive service. However, they receive additional income by raising prices, and their oligopoly/monopoly profits are distinguished by economists from normal profits and other expenses, which are the returns to productive activity. There are other harmful aspects to concentration and large firms as well, including restriction of innovation, using patents to defend market position, labor market power, including non-compete requirements for their employees, and substantial political power.  It is important to bring out that this harm involves the productive sector. Goods are being produced, but part of the income is from harmful activity. This is very often true–harmful activity is intertwined with productive. Also see Obtaining income from the government as both are often involved. Tax havens are another way in which taxes can be minimized and income from corruption can be laundered.

Cover of The Useless Man

The Useless Man: A political economy of populism by Pierre-Noël Giraud

Today, the “wretched of the earth” are no longer those oppressed by colonization, but rather the unemployed and the working poor, migrants and refugees, landless peasants depending on public or familial assistance to survive—in a word, the economically useless.
Uselessness is the most pernicious form of inequality, because it drives these men and women into traps of poverty from which escape is all but impossible.
Drawing on economic theory, political philosophy, and demographic and scientific projections on human population and natural resources throughout the twenty-first century, renowned economist and author Pierre-Noël Giraud exposes the alarming ways that the rise of uselessness defined as such—not only lack of value in a labor market, but also the inability to independently improve one’s own standing—fuels the global resurgence of populism, engendering social and political risks from demagoguery and intolerance to mass migrations and civil war.
Like environmental change, economic uselessness is a reality from which nations and societies can no longer hide—and it is this urgency that may show us the way forward. The Useless Man concludes with a series of carefully reasoned recommendations concerning nature and climate, globalization, and finance, all evaluating potential public policies by how effectively they stand to stem the growth of uselessness.
A lucid assessment of our current geopolitical situation and a stirring forecast of what will happen if we fail to act quickly and collaboratively on a global scale, The Useless Man is an essential, compassionate addition to the debate around economic inequality and its political consequences.

Pierre-Noël Giraud is professor of economics at Mines ParisTech, Paris Dauphine University, and the EMINES School of Industrial Management in Morocco, as well as a member of the National Academy of Technologies of France. He is the author of a number of landmark books on economics, of which The Useless Man is the first published in English. 

Harmful Economics will publish a review of The Useless Man when one becomes available. The text above is from the publisher’s website.