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  • Author: Saliha Metinsoy
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Why does the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assign more stringent labor conditions in some cases and not others? This paper argues that the Fund’s bureaucratic organizational culture and neoliberal economic beliefs dictate its interpretation of international economics and predict the stringency of labor conditions in its programs. Particularly, the Fund staff envisage that lower unit labor costs would indirectly increase competitiveness, boost exports, and contribute to the balance of payments in fixed exchange rate regimes, where currency depreciation is not possible. To this end, the Fund assigns more stringent labor conditions in fixed regimes compared to floating ones. To test this theory, the paper uses a mixed method. It firstly demonstrates the association between exchange rate regimes and the stringency of labor conditions in Fund programs in a global sample. It then complements this analysis by showing particular organizational habits and beliefs at work in two cases, namely in Latvia and Hungary in 2008 under their respective IMF programs. Furthermore, the paper shows that distribution of income away from labor groups (i.e. lowered wages) is in fact by design in IMF programs in an attempt to increase competitiveness in fixed regimes.
  • Topic: Economics, International Monetary Fund, International Development, Neoliberalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Latvia
  • Author: Michael Kende1, Nivedita Sen
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: E-commerce has long been recognized as a driver of growth of the digital economy, with the potential to promote economic development. The benefits come from lower transaction costs online, increased efficiency, and access to new markets. The smallest of vendors can join online marketplaces to increase their sales, while larger companies can use the Internet to join global value chains (GVCs), and the largest e-commerce providers are now among the most valuable companies in the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, World Trade Organization, Digital Economy, Economic growth, Free Trade
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Switzerland, Global Focus
  • Author: Tarek A. Hassan, Laurence van Lent, Stephan Hollander, Ahmed Tahoun
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Using tools from computational linguistics, we construct new measures of the impact of Brexit on listed firms in the United States and around the world: the share of discussions in quarterly earnings conference calls on costs, benefits, and risks associated with the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Using this approach, we identify which firms expect to gain or lose from Brexit and which are most affected by Brexit uncertainty. We then estimate the effects of these different kinds of Brexit exposure on firm-level outcomes. We find that concerns about Brexit-related uncertainty extend far beyond British or even European firms. US and international firms most exposed to Brexit uncertainty have lost a substantial fraction of their market value and have reduced hiring and investment. In addition to Brexit uncertainty (the second moment), we find that international firms overwhelmingly expect negative direct effects of Brexit (the first moment), should it come to pass. Most prominently, firms expect difficulties resulting from regulatory divergence, reduced labor mobility, trade access, and the costs of adjusting their operations post-Brexit. Consistent with the predictions of canonical theory, this negative sentiment is recognized and priced in stock markets but has not yet had significant effects on firm actions.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Brexit, Global Political Economy, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, European Union
  • Author: Joseph Halevi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the early stages of the formation of the Common Market. The period covered runs from the end of WW2 to 1959, which is the year in which the European Payments Union ceased to operate. The essay begins by highlighting the differences between the prewar political economy of Europe and the new dimensions and institutions brought in by the United States after 1945. It focuses on the marginalization of Britain and on the relaunching of French great power ambitions and how the latter determined, in a very problematical way, the European complexion of France. Because of France’s imperial aspirations, France, not West Germany, emerged as the politically crisis prone country of Europe acting as a factor of instability thereby jeopardizing the process of European integration, Among the large European nations, Germany and Italy appear, for opposite economic reasons, as the countries most focused on furthering integration. Germany expressed the strongest form of neomercantilism while Italy the weakest.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Global Political Economy, World War II, Common Market
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph Halevi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This essay deals with the contradictory dynamics that engulfed Europe from 1959 to 1979, the year of the launching of the European Monetary System. It focuses on how the macroeconomic frame- work of stop-go policies in the 1960s ended up privileging external – intra-European - exports at the expense of domestic demand. The paper offers a very tentative explanation as to why stop-go policies, by weakening domestic demand, did not put an end to the to the ‘long boom’ earlier as they should have. The French crisis of 1968-69 leading to the demise of De Gaulle is discussed at length, as is the renewal of the German export drive in the wake of a nominal revaluation of the D-Mark in 1969. Finally, the revival of labor struggles in Italy in the same year is put in the context of the structural weaknesses of the Italian economy as analyzed by the late Marcello de Cecco. The conclusion is that European countries had neither the political culture nor the institutional mechanisms to coordinate mutually advantageous policies. Their so-called cooperation was an exercise in establishing hegemony while defending the interests specific to the dominant economic groups of each country. The essay then deals with the formation of the EMS as an expression of efforts to establish and enforce economic dominance.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, History, Monetary Policy, Capitalism, Common Market, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Joseph Halevi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The paper highlights the position of German authorities, showing that they were quite lucid about the fundamental weaknesses inherent in a process that separated monetary from fiscal policies by giving priority to the centralization of the former. Instead of repeating the well known critiques levelled against the EMU – for which readers are referred to the unsurpassed treatment by Stiglitz, the essay highlights the splintering of Europe in the way in which it has unfolded during the 1990s and in the first decade of the present millennium. In particular the early economic and political origins of the terminal crisis of Italy are located between the late 1980s and the 1990s. France is shown to belong increasingly to the so-called European periphery by virtue of a weakening industrial structure and persistent balance of payments deficits. The paper argues that France regains its central role by political means and through its weight as an active nuclear military power centered on maintaining its imperial interests and posture especially in Africa. The first decade of the present millennium is portrayed as the period in which a distinct German economic area had been formed in the midst of Europe with a strong drive to the east with an increasingly powerful gravitational pull towards the People’s Republic of China.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Political Economy, History, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Europe, Asia, Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Servaas Storm
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Using macroeconomic data for 1960-2018, this paper analyzes the origins of the crisis of the ‘post-Maastricht Treaty order of Italian capitalism’. After 1992, Italy did more than most other Eurozone members to satisfy EMU conditions in terms of self-imposed fiscal consolidation, structural reform and real wage restraint—and the country was undeniably successful in bringing down inflation, moderating wages, running primary fiscal surpluses, reducing unemployment and raising the profit share. But its adherence to the EMU rulebook asphyxiated Italy’s domestic demand and exports—and resulted not just in economic stagnation and a generalized productivity slowdown, but in relative and absolute decline in many major dimensions of economic activity. Italy’s chronic shortage of demand has clear sources: (a) perpetual fiscal austerity; (b) permanent real wage restraint; and (c) a lack of technological competitiveness which, in combination with an overvalued euro, weakens the ability of Italian firms to maintain their global market shares in the face of increasing competition of low-wage countries. These three causes lower capacity utilization, reduce firm profitability and hurt investment, innovation and diversification. The EMU rulebook thus locks the Italian economy into economic decline and impoverishment. The analysis points to the need to end austerity and devise public investment and industrial policies to improve Italy’s ‘technological competitiveness’ and stop the structural divergence between the Italian economy and France/Germany. The issue is not just to revive demand in the short run (which is easy), but to create a self-reinforcing process of investment-led and innovation-driven process of long-run growth (which is difficult).
  • Topic: Economics, Capitalism, Global Political Economy, Macroeconomics, Eurozone
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy