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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: 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
  • 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