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Director's Lecture

Martin Wolf: “Saving Democratic Capitalism”


Event Summary

Universal suffrage democracy emerged out of market capitalism. But the marriage between these economic and political systems is always difficult. Unstable capitalism threatens plutocracy or autocracy. Democracy threatens economic populism. Today, the relationship between the two systems is in crisis across the western world, especially in the US and UK, as the economic and social changes brought about by global capitalism undermine democratic stability. At this talk, Financial Times chief economics commentator Martin Wolf joined five University of Chicago faculty members to ask: How has this happened, and what can be done to rebalance the relationship?


Marianne Bertrand
is the Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Faculty Director of Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, and Faculty Director of the Inclusive Economy Lab at the University of Chicago Urban Labs.

Elizabeth Chatterjee
is Assistant Professor of Environmental History at the University of Chicago, focusing on the histories of energy and infrastructure. Her first book, Electric Democracy, will provide an energy-centered history of India’s transforming political economy since independence in 1947.

Jonathan Levy
is a Professor of U.S. History at the University of Chicago. His most recent book, Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States, is a history of American economic life from British colonial settlement through the Great Recession.

Kenneth Pomeranz
is University Professor of Modern Chinese History at the University of Chicago. His research is mostly in social, economic, and environmental history, though it also deals with state formation, imperialism, religion, gender, and other topics. He is the author of several books and edited collections and the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 Dan David Prize and the 2021 Toynbee Prize.

Gabriel Winant
is an Assistant Professor of US History at the University of Chicago specializing in the social structures of inequality in modern American capitalism. His first book, The Next Shift: The Fall of Manufacturing and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, was published by Harvard University Press in March 2021.