"Soulsville" mural in Memphis, Tennessee.

Capitalism and (Under)Development in the American South

In the American South, an oligarchy of planters enriched itself through slavery. Pervasive underdevelopment is their legacy.
Collage illustration of a civil rights protest, inflated gas prices, and a Richard Nixon campaign poster.

Why America Abandoned the Greatest Economy in History

Was the country’s turn toward free-market fundamentalism driven by race, class, or something else? Yes.
Cover for a book of scrip for use at American Potash and Chemical’s company stores, 1937.

Greenbacks, Chits, and Scrip

Alternative currencies flourish in desperate times and situations.
Illustration of separated city buildings surrounding a globe embedded in the ground.

Reconstruction Finance

Popular politics and reconstructing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman Was Wrong

The famed economist’s “shareholder theory” provides corporations with too much room to violate consumers’ rights and trust.

A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy

The Green New Deal’s mastermind is a precocious New Yorker with big ambitions. Sound familiar?
European immigrants in line at Ellis Island.

How Immigrants Fit Into America's Economy, Now and 100 Years Ago

Compared to 19th-century arrivals, today's new arrivals are much more likely to be at the extreme ends of the earnings spectrum.
Illustration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt among tanks.

The ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Once More

In sending military aid to Ukraine, America’s values and security interests are aligned.
A nearly gutted department store escalator in Owings Mills Mall in Owings Mills, Maryland.

The Life and Death of the American Mall

The indoor suburban shopping center is a special kind of abandoned place.
A portrait of Andrew Jackson.

Whiggism Is Still Wrong

Vivek Ramaswamy says he wants to "make hard work cool again." He isn’t the first.
Painting of the Great Fire of Pittsburgh from right outside the city

The Asbestos Times

Asbestos was a miracle material, virtually impervious to fire. But as we fixed city fires in other ways, we came to learn about its horrific downsides.
Grant Wood’s sister, Nan Wood Graham, and his dentist, Byron McKeeby, stand by the painting for which they had posed, “American Gothic.”

Beyond the Myth of Rural America

Its inhabitants are as much creatures of state power and industrial capitalism as their city-dwelling counterparts.
President Clinton walks with Jiang Zemin past rows of Chinese soldiers.

It’s the Global Economy, Stupid

A new book on the Clinton presidency reveals how it abandoned a progressive vision for a finance-led agenda for economics and geopolitics.
A drawing of a woman looking inside the door of a church where children are playing.

The Quiet Revolution of the Sabbath

Requiring rest, rather than work, is still a radical idea.
Political cartoon of a column with the United States, Chile, and China; United Kingdom falling.

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Redux

The author of the 20th century’s most influential history book anticipates the coming world order.
United Auto Workers members at a rally.

UAW Strikes Built the American Middle Class

Today’s strikers are seeking to renew the broadly shared prosperity that earlier UAW work stoppages created.
The Northern Pacific Railway.

How One Robber Baron's Gamble on Railroads Brought Down His Bank

In 1873, greed, speculation and overinvestment in railroads sparked a financial crisis that sank the U.S. into more than five years of misery.

The Life of the Party

In his latest book, Michael Kazin argues that the Democrats have long sought to build a “moral capitalism.” Have they ever succeeded?
Black and white photo of the dressmaker union on strike

Strike Waves Across the US Seem Big, but the Number of People on Strike Remains Historically Low

Many of the reasons for strikes now mirror the motives that workers had for walking off the job in decades past.
A historical marker for the Broad Street site of domestic slave trade, foregrounding an image of the Exchange Building, located in Charleston, South Carolina.

Activists Have Long Called for Charleston to Confront Its Racial History. Tourists Now Expect It.

Tourist interest is contributing to a more honest telling of the city’s role in the US slave trade. But tensions are flaring as South Carolina lawmakers restrict race-based teachings.