John Weeks obituary

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US economist who argued against neoliberalism and was one of those advising Jeremy Corbyn on Labour party policy

John Weeks, who has died aged 79, was one of a group of prominent economists who, after the global financial crisis of 2008, began to push back against the dominant economic ideology of neoliberalism. Based in Britain after moving from the US in 1990, he took part in the Occupy movement against economic inequality and blogged on the Open Democracy and Social Europe websites. Latterly he was the driving force behind the Progressive Economy Forum (PEF), a body of academics and economists that was influential – although arguably not influential enough – in the development of Labour party policy during the Jeremy Corbyn years.

As PEF coordinator, John established links between its economists and Labour’s shadow treasury office under the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. Through various means, including the commissioning of papers on a universal basic income and shorter working hours, the setting up of a workshop with McDonnell’s office to consider Bank of England macro prudential policy, the staging of a series of public lectures and through informal meetings with McDonnell and members of his team, PEF was able to work up policies that appeared in the 2019 Labour manifesto.

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