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The Cold War in Welfare: Stock Markets versus Pensions

The Cold War in Welfare: Stock Markets versus Pensions

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A new Cold War has developed between competing blocs of countries over the role of financial markets versus the state in the provision of pensions and the financing of the economy generally. An Anglo-American bloc, which has spread into South America, Australia, Canada and Japan, favors private pension investment on stock markets. Proponents of this approach argue that it will be much more efficient and provide capital for corporate growth. A European bloc, not including the UK, favors state provision and a much smaller role for unstable stock markets in the provision of pensions. This model is under threat from the World Bank, financial markets, and many senior academics in the US and Britain. Richard Minns, in a timely and articulate intervention, demonstrates that many of the arguments used in support of the Anglo-American approach are based not on an improvement in pensions and economic growth, but rather on promotion of stock markets themselves, a decidedly different matter.