The major industrial nations enter the 1990s in the midst of land booms offering riches for a few but unemployment for many.
- Banks in TEXAS were bankrupted by massive speculation in real estate. Even embassies had to abandon their offices because they could not afford the rents in TOKYO.
- In BRITAIN, the spoils from housing – the direct result of the way the land market operates – enriched owner-occupiers but crippled the flow of workers into regions where entrepreneurs wanted to invest and lead the economy back to full-employment.
Fred Harrison’s thesis is that land speculation is the major cause of depressions. He shows how the land market functions as a junction box which regulates the power flowing between Labour and Capital. And how land speculation periodically throws the switches on the productive power of men and machines, causing economic stagnation.
This theory was acknowledged by philosophers such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx, and social reformers ranging from Winston Churchill to Leo Tolstoy, but it has been forgotten by today’s economists and policy-makers. The hypothesis is tested against the historical facts and the recent booms and slumps, and is found to offer a powerful explanation for postwar trends in unemployment and the distribution of income.
The Power in the Land challenges the pessimistic belief, nurtured by the depressions of the last two decades, that unemployment is now a permanent feature of late 20th century society. The author elaborates policies, based on a radical reform of the tax system, which would banish involuntary unemployment and generate continuous economic growth.
Fred Harrison is Executive Director for the Land Research Trust. He studied economics at Oxford, first at Ruskin College and then at University College, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. His MSc is from the University of London. He cut short a career as an investigative journalist in Fleet Street and embarked on a 10-year sojourn in Russia, following the collapse of communism, acting as an advisor to a number of Russian academic and political bodies, including the Duma (parliament), in order to help the Russian people avoid the economics favoured by rent-seekers.