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  • Author: Andreas Antoniades, Stephany Griffith-Jones
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the nature and characteristics of global debt dynamics in the post global financial crisis (GFC) period. First, we attempt to map the ways in which debt has been moving from sector to sector, and from one group of countries to another within the global economy. By capturing this inter-sectorial, inter-national, inter-regional movements of global debt we aspire to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of global debt and its mode of operation. Second, we attempt to analyse what is wrong with global debt dynamics, i.e. we examine the broken link between what global debt was supposed to do and what it does. Here, we point to three interrelated dynamics: the accumulation of unproductive debt, growing inequalities of income and wealth, and the increase in privately-created, interest-bearing money.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Financial Crisis, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Samuel Knafo, Benno Teschke
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Marxism has often been associated with two different legacies. The first rests on a strong exposition and critique of the logic of capitalism, which has been grounded in a systematic analysis of the laws of motion of capitalism as a system. The second legacy refers to a strong historicist perspective grounded in a conception of social relations and an emphasis on the centrality of power and social conflict to analyse history. In this article, we challenge the prominence of structural accounts of capitalism, which are inspired by the first of these legacies and argue for the need to radicalize the agent-centered and historicist contribution of Marx that derive from the second. Our claim is that Marxists operating within a structural framework systematically fall into economistic readings of capitalism, which hinder the practice of historicisation Marxism was supposed to buttress. To make this argument, we show how this tension between these legacies has played out within Political Marxism (PM). We argue that both orientations – encapsulated in the simultaneous programmatic emphasis on historically specific social conflicts and determinate rules of reproduction that are logically deduced from definitive social property relations – co-existed already uneasily in Robert Brenner’s original contributions to the Transition Debate. We proceed by critically exploring the increasing reliance on a structural conception of the ‘rules of reproduction’ in later works of PM’s early proponents and by some of its contemporary followers. This, we argue, has led to the reification of capitalism and a growing divide between theoretical premises and historical explanation. In response, we seek to return to the early historicist innovation of PM and to recover and develop its commitment to a more contextualised and open-ended interpretation of social conflicts. Through this internal critique and re-formulation of PM, we wish to open a broader debate within Marxism on the need for a more agency-based account of capitalism, which builds more explicitly on the concept of social relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Socialism/Marxism, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Eastern Europe, Germany, Western Europe
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This special report is prepared for the North American Forum (NAF). In 2015, CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program became the Secretariat for the Canadian leadership within the NAF. CIGI will be undertaking a program of research to support the Canadian contribution to the NAF in cooperation with our American and Mexican partners. In the coming months, CIGI will publish additional reports to support the work of the NAF. Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, trade, investment and migration flows among Canada, Mexico and the United States have helped turn North America into one of the most dynamic and prosperous trade blocs on the planet. With a new government in Ottawa, it is an ideal time for Canada to make a stronger, deeper relationship with Mexico a crucial plank of a plan to secure a prosperous future for North America. Better relations between Mexico and Canada not only means more opportunities to take advantage of the two countries’ economic and social complementarities, it also gives the two countries the opportunity to closely work together to get the United States on board with an ambitious North American agenda to secure the continent’s economic future.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Saul P. Limaye, Tsutomu Kikuchi
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Until recently, Southeast Asia had not been a region of sustained focus for the US-Japan relationship. But the situation is changing. The international relations of the Asia-Pacific is becoming more "multipolarized." This requires the US and Japan to think about the future of the region beyond the issue of US-China relations, which has preoccupied past discussions. A number of nations and institutions in the Asia-Pacific region will substantially affect the region's future. Southeast Asian nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are among them. A new era of more coordinated, sustained, and combined commercial and security involvement by the US and Japan in Southeast Asia may be at hand. In light of these changes, the East-West Center in Washington (EWCW), in collaboration with the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and through the support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), initiated a dialogue with Southeast Asians about their perspectives on how the US-Japan relationship and alliance could or should approach cooperation with the region.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Markets, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Sandy Brian Hager
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: This paper offers new theoretical and empirical insights to explain the resilience of the U.S. Treasuries market as a safe haven for global investment. Going beyond the standard systemic explanation, the paper highlights the importance of domestic politics in reinforcing the safe haven status of U.S. Treasury securities. In particular, the research shows how a formidable “bond” of interests unites domestic and foreign owners of the public debt and works to sustain U.S. power in global finance. Foreigners who now own roughly half of the U.S. public debt have something to gain from their domestic counterparts. The top one percent of U.S. households that dominate domestic ownership of the U.S. public debt have considerable political clout, thus alleviating foreign concerns about the creditworthiness of the U.S. federal government. Domestic owners of the U.S. public debt, in turn, have something to gain from the seemingly insatiable foreign appetite for U.S. Treasury securities. In supplying the U.S. federal government and U.S. households with cheap credit, foreign investors in U.S. Treasuries help to deflect challenges to the top one percent within the wealth and income hierarchy.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Political Economy, Inequality, Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Benjamin Selwyn
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Global Value Chain (GVC) analysis is part and parcel of mainstream development discourse and policy. Supplier firms are encouraged, with state support, to ‘link-up’ with trans-national lead firms. Such arrangements, it is argued, will reduce poverty and contribute to meaningful socio-economic development. This portrayal of global political economic relations represents a ‘problem-solving’ interpretation of reality. This article proposes an alternative analytical approach rooted in ‘critical theory’ which reformulates the GVC approach to better investigate and explain the reproduction of global poverty, inequality and divergent forms of national development. It suggests re-labelling GVC as Global Poverty Chain (GPC) analysis. GPC’s are examined in the textiles, food, and high-tech sectors. The article details how workers in these chains are systematically paid less than their subsistence costs, how trans-national corporations use their global monopoly power to capture the lion’s share of value created within these chains, and how these relations generate processes of immiserating growth. The article concludes by considering how to extend GPC analysis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Labor Issues, Inequality, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Eastern Europe, Asia
  • Author: Samuel Appleton
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: The Bretton Woods conference is conventionally understood as a radical break between the laissez faire order and its ‘embedded liberal’ successor, in which finance was suppressed in the interest of trade and productive growth. The new institutions, particularly the IBRD are often considered emblematic of this. In response to this, the paper argues that the Bretton Woods order required the enlistment, not repression, of private American finance. Firstly, laissez-faire era proposals for international financial institutions provided important precedents for the Bretton Woods institutions. Second, these were predicated on the uniquely deep liquidity of American financial markets following upon Progressive-era reforms, in the legacy of which the Roosevelt administration sought to locate the New Deal. Thirdly, they found new relevance in the 1940s as the IBRD turned by necessity to American financial markets for operating capital. Negotiating the imperative of commercial creditworthiness had two important consequences. First, it entailed the structural and procedural transformation of the IBRD, and allowed management to carve out a proprietary terrain in which its agency was decisive. Second, this suggests that US agendas were mediated by the Bank’s institutional imperatives – and that finance was no more ‘embedded’ during the Bretton Woods era than its predecessor.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, World Bank, Global Markets, International Development, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the US economy has been plagued by sluggish wage growth and rising income inequality. The debate over inequality in the 1980s and 1990s focused on the growing disparity between the earnings of skilled and unskilled workers and the earnings of the super-rich. Growing inequality between capital and labor income has now been added to these concerns. Remarkably, the growth in real GDP per worker over the decade of the 2000s, which averaged 1.7 percent annually, was actually more rapid than in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, yet in the 2000s workers saw almost no increase in their take-home pay. Consistent with this gap between labor productivity and wage growth was a pronounced decline in the share of US national income earned by workers. As labor's share has declined, the share of capital has risen and has been especially concentrated in corporate profits. As profits are far less equally distributed than wages, this increase has contributed to rising income inequality. There are several plausible reasons for this development—globalization, automation, weak bargaining power of labor, political capture, higher markups—but the natural starting point for explaining factor income shares is the neoclassical theory of the functional distribution of income enumerated by John Hicks and Joan Robinson in the 1930s. In this framework there are two possible explanations for labor's recent declining share. The first is that capital and labor are gross substitutes, and the second is that capital and labor are gross complements. Several papers have explained the recent decline in labor's share in income by claiming that capital has been substituted for labor. Lawrence puts forward the alternative "gross complements" explanation for the declining US labor share. He shows that despite a rise in measured capital-labor ratios, labor-augmenting technical change in the United States has been sufficiently rapid that effective capital-labor ratios have actually fallen in the sectors and industries that account for the largest portion of the declining labor share in income since 1980. In combination with estimates that corroborate the consensus in the literature that the elasticity of substitution is less than 1, these declines in the effective capital-labor ratio can account for much of the recent fall in labor's share in US income at both the aggregate and industry level. Paradoxically, these results also suggest that increased capital formation, ideally achieved through a progressive consumption tax, would raise labor's share in income.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Emily Isaac
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy
  • Abstract: In the past five years, San Francisco has become home to dozens of new online and mobile “service networking” companies that claim to be “revolutionizing” the way work gets done. Making up what has come to be known as the “platform economy,” these technology companies provide the platforms for online and mobile marketplaces in which users can buy and sell their goods and services. Together, these “platform economy” companies make up a concentrated innovative cluster in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, more specifically, San Francisco proper. One of the sharing economy’s pioneers and largest success stories, TaskRabbit Inc. allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to local contractors—or, in company lingo, neighborhood “Taskers.” Launched out of Boston in 2008, TaskRabbit is just one of many tech startups that have left Boston for the San Francisco Bay Area. Since relocating to San Francisco, the company has received $37.5 million in venture funding, is available in 20 cities, and reportedly has 1.25 million users and over 25,000 Taskers. Indeed, TaskRabbit exemplifies the immeasurable benefits of strategically locating a firm in an industry cluster.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Communications, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ming Zhang
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Due to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the Chinese government began to promote renminbi (RMB) internationalization in order to raise its international status, decrease reliance on the US dollar (USD) and advance domestic structural reform. RMB internationalization has achieved progress not only in cross-border trade settlement, but also in the offshore RMB markets. However, the rampant cross-border arbitrage and the relatively slow development of RMB invoicing compared to RMB settlement are becoming increasingly problematic. RMB internationalization has exerted significant influence on not only the Chinese economy but also other emerging market economies. RMB internationalization complicates domestic monetary policy, exacerbates the currency mismatch on China's international balance sheet and increases both the scale and volatility of short-term capital flows. It offers emerging economies another alternative for pricing domestic currency and investing foreign exchange reserves. Its overall impact on the international monetary system's stability will depend on how the capital account is liberalized and the consistency and transparency of Chinese monetary policy. This paper concludes with five recommendations for Chinese policy makers to promote RMB internationalization in a sustainable way that is conducive to international stability.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China