Category archives for SPERI Comment

Italy in an age of authoritarian liberalism

How the recent history of Italian capitalism has been shaped by populists and technocrats Italy is not only divided, as the recent elections have once again demonstrated, but also as divisive as usual. Optimists point to its recent recovery and 9th place in world GDP rankings (ahead of rising giants such as Russia or Indonesia); pessimists highlight that since the … Continue reading

17 May 2018 by
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Why we need to stop letting economic crises go to waste

Jacqueline Best

Economic crises present opportunities to build a more equitable, effective society, but too often these opportunities are lost. There’s a popular adage that we should never let a good crisis go to waste. Yet, arguably, that’s what we’ve been doing for decades now. We’ve avoided facing the genuine political challenges that economic crises present us and lost these opportunities to … Continue reading

8 May 2018 by
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England’s local elections 2018: the unusual case of Sheffield City Region’s mayoral contest

Ariana Giovannini

On 3 May, the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority will elect its first ‘metro mayor’. Although the mayor will preside over a devolution deal with no powers and funding (yet), this is a contest that is worth watching The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (SCRCA) mayoral election is a unique case within England. Whilst the other 6 ‘metro mayors’ were … Continue reading

2 May 2018 by
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Understanding the IMF better

Tony Payne

The Fund does make normatively driven interventions in ideologically charged economic policy debates, but not always from the perspective imagined and often with only limited impact The paradox of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is that it has been around for so long and is so familiar a part of the institutional apparatus of the global political economy that we … Continue reading

23 April 2018 by
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Reimagining tax through speculative design: or, how to critique neoliberalism

If you were given £5m to communicate *something* with all income taxpayers, what message would you want to circulate? What form would it take? How radical would you be? I recently co-organised a workshop with Rebecca Bramall as part of a project we’re doing on ‘Reimagining Tax Through Speculative Design’ that asked a variation of this question. The aim of the project is to … Continue reading

20 April 2018 by
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Macron’s railway reforms: the ultimate test for French trade unionism

Heather Connolly

Railway trade unions have begun three months of rolling strikes from April-June 2018 against reforms to their employment rights. The outcome of this dispute will be decisive for the government and its ability to make further reforms, and for the very future of the French trade union movement It was only a matter of time before the status of cheminot … Continue reading

19 April 2018 by
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From capitalism grounded to grounded capitalism – Part 2

Craig Berry

Even on the left, post-crisis regional economic policy in Britain has been underpinned by pre-crisis intellectual paradigms. This post argues that a ‘grounded capitalism’ approach can transform the British growth model while alleviating regional inequalities Part 1 of this essay outlined the scale of the challenge: the long-rooted nature of geographical unevenness in Britain, intertwined with broader capitalist development. Yet … Continue reading

18 April 2018 by
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From capitalism grounded to grounded capitalism – Part 1

Craig Berry

We can partly situate the grounding of Britain’s pre-crisis growth model in its geographical unevenness – but the left must also situate its response to regional inequalities in a new understanding of capitalism’s spatiality The North-South divide, albeit loosely defined, has long been part of the British pathos. The country’s political elite has, ostensibly, often sought to address the very … Continue reading

17 April 2018 by
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A Question of Value: Raising Productivity by Lowering Inequality

The focus on low UK productivity overlooks the crucial influence of inequality The latest release of UK productivity figures highlights the continuing dire performance of the lowest productivity sectors of the economy. A recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) demonstrates that workers in retail, hospitality and care all contribute significantly less value per hour worked than the average worker in … Continue reading

13 April 2018 by
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A review of the SPERI series, ‘Revisiting the developmental state’

Rick Rowden

Despite many changes in today’s modern global economy developmental states are needed more than ever In the fall of 2017, SPERI’s Matthew Bishop and Anthony Payne gathered essays from a group of nine development economists who produced essays on ‘Revisiting the developmental state’ (SPERI Paper No. 43). They drew upon a body of work published on the SPERI Comment blog … Continue reading

6 April 2018 by
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Doing politics differently? Metro-mayors and democratic renewal

Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region metro-mayors have been in power just under a year, but has political diversity and participation changed? The three main purposes of the establishment of combined authorities and directly elected metro-mayors were respectively economic growth, public service reform and democratic renewal. Of the three, democratic renewal was always destined to be the poor cousin. When … Continue reading

3 April 2018 by
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Don’t Panic! (At least not about inflation)

Jacqueline Best

Concerns about high inflation – a key narrative underpinning recent financial volatility – are highly suspect As financial markets have been showing their panicky side in the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing various accounts of what’s driving the volatility. One of the key narratives goes something like this: 1) wages are moving up in the United States, and 2) inflation is … Continue reading

22 March 2018 by
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After Carillion: the function of procurement in public projects

The post-Carillion debates must consider the effectiveness of local authority procurement strategies Recent concerns over the financial health of Capita and the collapse of Carillion has called into question the effectiveness of procurement processes in government contracts aimed at delivering the lowest cost to the public sector. Our research on large scale projects called into question the received wisdom of … Continue reading

20 March 2018 by
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How a new electoral law could shape the 2018 Italian elections

Italy’s new electoral law – used for the first time in this weekend’s election – could have a wide-ranging impact on the country’s politics By the end of Sunday 4th March Italian voters will discover a lot more about themselves than they have known for years, thanks to their brand new electoral law whose main target is to represent them … Continue reading

2 March 2018 by
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The politics of fear: how immigration is dominating the Italian election campaign

Growing popular concern about immigration could see the centre-right benefit in Sunday’s election The politics of fear is once again affecting the Italian elections. After debates about fake news and the promise of very expensive, and for this reason unachievable, policies, shaped the first stage of the electoral campaign, the immigration issue has been at the heart of public discussion … Continue reading

2 March 2018 by
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USS is the tip of the iceberg – our pensions system is a hot mess

The universities pension strike is a sign of the quiet crisis brewing in the UK pensions system This week, university staff have been on strike against devastating changes to their pensions, braving the freezing weather to stand on picket lines waving placards with brilliantly dweeby slogans (personal faves: “Geertz ya dirty hands off our pensions” and “The provost is an … Continue reading

2 March 2018 by
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Globalising cities and their de-globalising hinterlands: Book review

Scott Lavery

Global cities at the ‘core’ of the national economy generate deep and de-stabilising patterns of under-development in the ‘periphery’ Cities have long played a critical role in the development of global capitalism. In renaissance Europe, merchants in Genoa, Venice and Florence extended their power by integrating their urban economies into trade flows emanating from the Orient. During the 19th-century Pax … Continue reading

2 March 2018 by
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Silvio Berlusconi: what to expect from the comeback king in Italy’s election

Berlusconi’s reputation as one of Europe’s most remarkable politicians of recent decades remains fully deserved When he was booted out of office in 2011, Silvio Berlusconi’s political career appeared to enter a new, and seemingly final, phase. He was occupied less frequently in setting the political agenda than in reacting to agendas set by others. He was already elderly and support for his Forza … Continue reading

1 March 2018 by
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The radical left in the 2018 Italian election

Torn between centre-left respectability and anti-establishment protest, the Italian radical left struggles to devise a coherent and appealing political project The electoral campaign of the forthcoming Italian election on 4 March 2018 is being dominated by three main poles: a centre-right coalition led by Forza Italia (FI) and Lega Nord (Lega); the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), running alone; and … Continue reading

21 February 2018 by
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Europe (and immigration) among the new Eurosceptics in the 2018 Italian elections

Populist ‘elites vs the people’ narratives are playing upon rising Euroscepticism and concerns about immigration Recent comment pieces and public opinion data address the increasing dissatisfaction with the European Union (EU) among Italian citizens. Although Italy has always been presented and is well known as one of the most Euro-enthusiast countries, levels of public Euroscepticism have started to increase since … Continue reading

21 February 2018 by
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