The future of western democracies hinges on whether centrist political forces can offer an economic policy in which the left-behind can believe. The failure of mainstream parties to do so for decades created a large enough constituency in many countries for populist movements to gain political power. Those populists do not have real answers to the plight of the left-behind, but at least they treat their grievances as worthy of attention. How can centrists do the same, in a way that actually makes a difference to the lives of those who support populist movements as a last hope? Here is one principle to guide an inclusive economic policy at times of structural economic changes from de-industrialisation to globalisation: protect workers, not jobs. When this principle is honoured, things tend to go better than when it is not. And that seems to hold about as universally as any economic rule of thumb can be expected to. In France, for example, the economics Nobel laureate Jean Tirole crit...

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