The Icarus Curse

The Icarus Curse

How Western Democracies Derailed and How to Get Back on Track

by Johan Van Overtveldt

Published by: Agate Publishing

376 Pages

  • Hardcover
  • 9781572843431
  • Published: December 2024

Economic anxiety and loss of trust in civic institutions are driving more and more people to political extremes. How did we get here, and how do we get our economic policies back on track before the democracies of the world derail?

From former Belgian minister of finance and bestselling author Johan Van Overtveldt comes a new analysis of the economic forces that have driven us to the brink of a democratic breakdown. The Icarus Curse offers a stark assessment of the current state of Western democracies, once celebrated as the pinnacle of political and economic success. With the demise of the Soviet Union and China's emergence onto the world stage, the Western model faced no viable challengers. However, three decades later, Western democracies find themselves under siege both externally and internally. Russia, Iran, and especially China openly challenge the liberal Western order, while internally, citizens increasingly question the democratic and free market system, leading to polarization and social unrest. The political elite in most Western democracies flew too close to the sun, and now they’re crashing.

In The Icarus Curse, Van Overtveldt argues that decades of Keynesian-inspired policies have led to policy exhaustion, with politicians fueling unrealistic expectations and accumulating debt. Despite central bankers' efforts to mitigate crises, the current policy model is unsustainable, leaving little room for significant change. Yet, there is hope for redemption: Van Overtveldt reviews the ideas of Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and Paul Volcker to put forward ideas to redesign policies for a brighter economic future.