Newsletter: Berlin Summit

From our Forum New Economy newsletter series.




23. APRIL 2024



Dear friends and colleagues, 

There are certainly a number of reasons why populists have been gaining ground in Western democracies for years. There is now a broad consensus that this is happening particularly in regions that have been hit by economic and social upheaval with far-reaching consequences for people – be it the China shock in the US, the decline of industry in the North of England or the massive upheavals in many regions of eastern Germany. So what Joe Biden is doing with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) or the CHIPS & Science Act since 2022 should have a moderating effect: the money is targeted at weakened regions, which should lead to massive investment and jobs there – and make people happier.

The polls seem to show that this is not working, with Joe Biden’s popularity falling despite his economic successes. Is this yet to come? Populism scholar and Forum Fellow Robert Gold explores this question for our Berlin Summit, “Winning Back the People”27-29 May. Last week we discussed with Thomas Ferguson of INET and Teresa Ghilarducci of the New School, among others, how to analyse this using a model. The first step is to identify by region which IRA spending has a particular impact where – to then look at how investment and employment develop there; and whether there are signs in surveys that people there are protesting less, i.e. voting for Trump.

Since this policy does not seem to make Biden more popular overall, the detailed analyses may not have much impact either. But there is still a lack of data and distance. It may take more than short-term investment booms to inspire the frustrated. But it is possible that a direction is already emerging – and that in swing states, where the Democrats and Republicans are always close, even small effects are enough to tip the balance in Biden’s favour. Just as, according to the much-cited analysis by David Autor and colleagues, the opposite was true in critical states in 2016 – which was enough to elect Trump. Robert Gold’s analysis will focus on these swing states.

He will present his findings at the Summit at the end of May – and in a panel discussion on 28 May. David Dorn, co-author of David Autor’s study, will also be present to discuss the state of populism research and Bidenomics, as will Mark Blyth, Marcel Fratzscher, Catherine Fieschi and Teresa Ghilarducci.

“Winning back the people”: Harold James, Branko Milanoviç, Joe Kaeser and Lisa Paus will discuss this at the opening of the summit in Berlin the day before – with the mayor of Spremberg, Christine Herntier, who is currently trying to turn the coal-mining town into a technology attraction. “Winning back the people” at grassroots level.

To register for the opening panel on 27 May click here. If you want to attend the open summit on 29 May on the outskirts of Berlin, you can still send an email to to indicate your interest in advance.


You can listen to and watch the replay of our New Economy Short Cut with Martin Hellwig and Martin Wolf on why banks are still dangerous here.


Have a nice week,

Thomas Fricke


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