Much of the outrage over economic inequality in the United States has centered on the high compensation and lack of accountability that corporate executives supposedly enjoy -- allegedly the result of boards at public companies. The truth, however, is that American CEOs now earn less and get fired more than in the recent past.
Inequality is rising across the post-industrial capitalist world. The problem is not caused by politics and politics will never be able to eliminate it. But simply ignoring it could generate a populist backlash. Governments must accept that today as ever, inequality and insecurity are the inevitable results of market operations. Their challenge is to find ways of shielding citizens from capitalism's adverse consequences -- even as they preserve the dynamism that produces capitalism's vast economic and cultural benefits in the first place.
With markets rattled by the downgrade of U.S. debt, some experts fear running out of policy tools to prevent another global recession, while others are calling on government and central banks to improve fiscal and monetary policy coordination.
The global financial crisis has taken a particularly harsh toll on Russia, where the leading stock index has lost more than half its value since July. Moscow has devised a bailout package, but analysts say more pain could be on the way, particularly if oil prices keep falling.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.