Posts tagged with: Samuel Gregg

Pope Francis' trip to the US

“Supporting markets as the economic arrangements most likely to help promote human flourishing doesn’t necessarily mean you accept libertarian philosophical premises” says Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg in an essay published today at Public Discourse.  This comes in response to “Koch Brothers Latest Target: Pope Francis,” an Oct. 14  article written by John Gehring at the American Prospect that claims the Acton Institute is part of a larger network of organizations behind “a decidedly different message than Pope Francis does when it comes to the economy and climate change.”  Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, labels various free-market organizations as “libertarian” and asserts that “libertarian thought … is the exact opposite of Catholic teaching.”

Gregg begins his response by noting some of the contributions that great libertarian thinkers such as Hayek and Mises have made to economics:

Libertarianism’s great strength lies in economics. Prominent twentieth-century libertarian economists, such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek, made major contributions to the critique of socialist economics. While ridiculed by some at the time, their criticisms turned out to be spot-on.

In Socialism (1922), for example, Mises illustrated that socialist economies can’t replicate the market price system’s ability to signal the supply and demand status for countless goods and services to consumers and producers at any one point in time. However intelligent and statistically equipped the top-down planners might be (whether they take the form of a Communist politburo, a Fascist dictator, or a 1970s British government), they simply cannot know the optimal price for any good or service at any point in time. Any attempt to dictate prices from the top-down will lead, paradoxically, to economic disorder and dysfunction.

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Samuel Gregg, director of research at Acton Institute, was recently interviewed by Carl E. Olson of Catholic World Report about his new book For God and Profit.  Gregg is a frequent contributor to CWR on the topics of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory.

The first question asked of Gregg was “Is it fair to say that Church teaching about money and economics is widely misunderstood and often misrepresented? If so, what are some of the reasons?” His response:

Catholic social teaching outlines clear principles for people who want to addresses issues surrounding finance and economic life in a way that takes human flourishing seriously. These include the principles of the dignity of the person, solidarity, subsidiarity, the preferential option for the poor, the principle of common use, the principal of private property, to name just a few. These principles are drawn from Revelation and the natural law. But they are not well understood by some Catholics. One reason for this is that they tend to be buried—including, I must say, in the social encyclicals—amidst a range of historically-contingent reflections and the offering of prudential judgements on present-day affairs.

The English language version of Rerum Novarum (1891) is about 14,000 words. Laudato Si’ (2015) is approximately 40,000 words. More than one person has suggested that this partly reflects the magisterium entering into the details of far too many economic subjects, the vast majority of which Catholics are free to disagree about among themselves. If we’re interested in equipping lay Catholics to think through economic issues, more time should be invested in explaining principles of Catholic social teaching and how they relate to each other. Less time, I’d argue, should be spent addressing questions upon which Catholics may legitimately hold a variety, even sometimes quite different views.

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Blog author: KHanby
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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Economic Growth

Economic Growth in the U.S. has slowed down compared to historical averages according to recent reports from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Some are claiming that this is okay and that it is “normal” while there are others who disagree and understand that economic growth is essential to a prospering society.  This division among people on how they view economic growth also represents a division among the two major political parties on how they view economic growth.  Director of Research here at the Acton Institute, Samuel Gregg, recently penned an article for stream.org about the fundamental differences between the Democratic and Republican Party platforms on the topic of economic growth.

Gregg starts out by explaining the Dems position on economic growth and how they focus most of their economics on redistribution: (more…)

free tradeWhile the Democratic and Republican parties disagree on just about every other issue, there is one area where they seem to have common ground.  That is the issue of trade and, unfortunately, neither of the two major political party’s platform takes a liberal position on the issue.  Director of Research at the Acton Institute, Samuel Gregg, recently highlighted in an article for The Stream how the two parties have taken positions against free trade and how ultimately this will hurt the American economy.  Gregg starts his article by explaining how the alternative to free trade is protectionism which will lead directly to cronyism:

Protectionism also encourages unhealthy relationships between politicians and businesses. The latter have an incentive to lobby for favors rather than improve their performance in the marketplace. And politicians expect something in return for passing legislation that favors particular industries and businesses. In this sense, protectionism feeds a major problem already harming American politics and the economy: crony capitalism.

Gregg goes on to explain both party’s platform on the issue of trade, starting with how the growing skeptic ism of free trade in America has infiltrated the Republican platform.  This is really not surprising when considering how closely Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric aligns with the ideas of protectionism.  Gregg says: (more…)

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

After a recent trip to Argentina, Samuel Gregg reflects on its current economic state in a piece for The Catholic World Report.  Gregg highlights the role that current Argentine politics play on economic policy and how Pope Francis affects the Catholic Church in his home country.

For the first time in 13 years, Argentina has elected a non-Perónist leader.  Mauricio Macri replaced Néstor Kirchner and his wife Cristina in November 2015. The Kirchners represented a wave of Latin American leftist-populists and brought economic disarray to Argentina.  Gregg talks about some of the good economic policies that Macri is already putting in place: (more…)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

In a recent interview with MercatorNet, Samuel Gregg explains why the integration of markets is not in itself a bad thing.  Gregg starts out by explaining why Brexit does not contradict economic globalization, but why it is actually beneficial to the global economy.  Hey says:

But Brexit is also quite compatible with economic globalization. Economic globalization is rendering trade blocs such as the EU increasingly irrelevant. Britain now can choose to trade freely with whoever it wants, instead of waiting for every single member of the EU to agree.

The interview continues to talk about Gregg’s 2013 book Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future and what exactly is America trying to avoid by not becoming Europe.  He explains: (more…)

Photo from Wikimedia

In a recent article published for The Catholic World Report Samuel Gregg highlights some similarities between Pope Francis and the former president of Argentina, Juan Perón.  Gregg asks: “Does a long-deceased Latin American populist provide us with insight into Pope Francis?”

Juan Perón served as the president of Argentina from 1946-1955, while Pope Francis was just a teenager, and again from 1973-1974.  According to Gregg, the economic views of this potentially influential leader on Pope Francis are:

“best described as a mixture of economic nationalism, extensive wealth-redistribution, efforts by the state to coordinate different groups from the top-down (also known as “corporatism”), and a suspicion of markets. This resulted in heavy tariffs on foreign products, subsidies for domestic businesses (especially those close to government officials), and nationalization of key industries.”

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