Profile of Prof Mariana Mazzucato: Tireless proponent of government-led innovation

IMF’s Sep-2020 Finance and Development Magazine profiles Mariana Mazzucato:

Outside the home, Mazzucato has been stirring the pot in economics and public policy for nearly a decade. Her main message is that governments around the world need to seize their power to lead innovation for the betterment of humanity. Just now she’s immersed in applying her ideas to the COVID-19 crisis as a member of various task forces as well as in her customary role of economics agitator.

“We can’t get out of the COVID problem,” she says, “unless we actually rethink the role of the state. Literally, what is it for?”

Her controversial answer: Government is for setting big goals, defining the missions necessary for achieving them, encouraging and investing in innovation, and governing the process so that the public benefits. This contradicts the modern conventional wisdom that government is there to clean up after disasters and fix egregious market imbalances, but it should otherwise get out of the way so that private enterprise can lead innovation.

That kind of thinking led to the 2007–08 financial crisis and the damaging wave of government austerity that followed, especially in Europe, Mazzucato says.

 

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