speri.comment: the political economy blog

How Tax Inspectors Without Borders are tackling lost tax revenues

Gail Hurley

Developing countries lose billions annually through tax avoidance and evasion. New UN-led initiatives are helping but global action is still required. Tax, not development aid, was the front and centre issue at last year’s UN Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.  The aim of the event was to thrash out the international community’s plan for funding the new … Continue reading

23 August 2016 by
Categories: Development, SPERI Comment, Tax | Leave a comment

Brexit Britain and the political economy of undemocracy: Part II – the left

Craig Berry

While the right acts decisively to restore the established order, the Corbyn experiment eschews both democracy and state power, and thus Labour’s best hope of transforming capitalism. Labour’s current predicament is one of many dimensions.  It is also not simply Labour’s dilemma, insofar as the turmoil engulfing the party is symptomatic of that which now characterises the basic notion of … Continue reading

17 August 2016 by
Categories: EU Referendum, SPERI Comment | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Will ‘Decent Work’ or Victorian brutality mark India’s dash for the top?


While the government attempts to weaken labour regulations, the organisation of India’s many million informal labourers is likely to gather pace Although all too often glossed over, Victorian Britain’s harsh working conditions are no secret: ‘Children of nine or ten years…dragged from their squalid beds at two, three, or four o’clock in the morning and compelled to work for a subsistence … Continue reading

16 August 2016 by
Categories: Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment | Leave a comment

Rio and the surreal: The 2016 Olympic Games in a ‘glocal’ context

Giselle Datz

Paradoxically ritualistic and idiosyncratic, the Rio Olympics are set against a background of perplexing global and local dynamics which converge around the challenge of resilience. Olympic Games reveal an inherent paradox.  They are part of a recurrent and ritualistic tradition, not only in terms of their peace and brotherhood ideals, but also in some of their bureaucratic procedures.  Locations are … Continue reading

11 August 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment, The BRICs | Leave a comment

Brexit Britain and the political economy of undemocracy: Part I – the right

Craig Berry

The aftermath of economic crisis, followed by Brexit, has seen the dismantling of democratic norms in Britain. The right benefits, while the left stands by. Another Conservative Prime Minister, another Downing Street speech drenched in one nation mythology.  Many will doubt Theresa May’s sincerity when she talks about equality and inclusion, but to conclude that she is being duplicitous would … Continue reading

10 August 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment | Tags: , , | 1 comment

Growth and degradation in UK apparel manufacturing


Low paid, precarious and informal employment is commonplace in a sector shaped by new regulatory regimes and global manufacturing trends How is it that wages in the apparel manufacturing sector in the UK have been pushed well below the national minimum wage, and basic work and employment standards are frequently violated? Even in one of the industries most exposed to … Continue reading

9 August 2016 by
Categories: Employment, Politics and policy, Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment | Tags: | Leave a comment

A new Five Star Boom: the 2016 Italian municipal elections


June’s elections saw rising support for the ‘anti-establishment’ Five-Star Movement, which in the context of growing economic instability is an increasingly popular alternative to ‘mainstream politics’ The Italian municipal elections held on 19 June 2016 saw further success for the Five-Star Movement (M5S). The elections are significant as they shed light on the evolution of the party created by the … Continue reading

3 August 2016 by
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Parcel Delivery Workers and the degradation of work


Life for voiceless, low paid parcel delivery workers exposes the harsh realities of degraded work in 21st century Britain On July 11th, Theresa May, heralded a new direction for her government: hard pressed workers would be given a voice on company boards and the excessive earnings inequalities that have become an entrenched feature of our workplaces should be reined-in. Though … Continue reading

2 August 2016 by
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‘Who dun Brexit’: ‘globalisation’ or global neoliberalism?

Tony Payne

These two phenomena need to be distinguished in order to expose some of the conceptual camouflage being thrown up about the cause of Brexit We are now already a month into the great Brexit debate in Britain. It’s been extraordinarily interesting, even for people depressed by its initiation.  The good news is that it has been substantially more sophisticated in … Continue reading

27 July 2016 by
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Modern slavery and the gendered paradoxes of labour unfreedom

Alessandra Mezzadri

Why labour unfreedom is a more useful category than modern slavery to challenge exploitative working relations at home and abroad Since the financial crisis, the partial recovery of profitability of business has happened at the expenses of workers worldwide. In the UK, improvements in employment rates have been paralleled by a decline in real wages. Abroad, countries hosting global labour-intensive … Continue reading

26 July 2016 by
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Return to the Commonwealth? UK-Africa trade after Brexit

Peg Murray-Evans

Calls for a post-Brexit return to the Commonwealth ignore the existing privileged EU-Africa trade relationship as well as the UK’s now diminished trade influence In a speech to the Institute of Chartered Engineers in February, David Davis MP – now Secretary of State for Exiting the EU – told the audience: ‘The only Commonwealth country to enjoy a free trade … Continue reading

21 July 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment, trade | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When work doesn’t work

Sophie Moullin

The left’s focus on full employment fails to address the realities of work and family in the twenty-first century ‘The clue is in the name’, Ed Miliband said, Labour is ‘the party of work’.  The previous UK Labour party leader fought the 2015 general election on a manifesto that promised ‘to reward hard work’.  Yet soon after the election one … Continue reading

20 July 2016 by
Categories: Economics, Employment, SPERI Comment, Tax | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austerity has transformed the meaning and morality of work in the UK

Craig Berry

Measuring economic success through levels of employment obscures the unsustainable and oppressive nature of the UK’s recovery Work has of course always been central to capitalist organisation, since the ability of capital to extract surplus value from labour is at the essential core of accumulation processes. In post-crisis UK, however, work has become not only integral to the function of … Continue reading

19 July 2016 by
Categories: Austerity, Economics, Employment, Europe and the EU, Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment, Sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Independence Day – or is it? Brexit and Scottish independence


Despite a post-Brexit consensus about the UK breaking up – might the chances of Scottish independence now be reduced? After the UK’s referendum decision, on 23 June 2016, to leave the EU, we face considerable uncertainties. What will be the economic effects of Brexit?  We can’t be sure.  What sort of deal will the UK be able to negotiate with … Continue reading

15 July 2016 by
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After Brexit where next for UK employment rights?

Jason Heyes

The new Conservative government could rewrite employment rights, what happens now will depend on whether pragmatism or ideology prevails The potential consequences of Brexit for UK employment rights was a prominent issue in the debate that preceded the referendum.  Many employment entitlements are underpinned by European directives that establish a basic floor of rights for all EU and EEA member … Continue reading

14 July 2016 by
Categories: Employment, Europe and the EU, Politics and policy, SPERI Comment | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Coming Crisis: we do not have much time

Professor Andrew Gamble

The political economy problems we face are complex and loom large; new solutions are needed and time is of the essence As the previous blogs in this series demonstrate, the political economy problems facing us are complex, intractable, and in many cases deepening. Recovery from the 2008 crash has been slow and uneven, and as Tony Payne points out, all … Continue reading

13 July 2016 by
Categories: Debt, Inequality, SPERI Comment, The coming crisis | Tags: , | 1 comment

Rethinking Recovery: Poverty chains and global capitalism


Reorienting value generated within ‘global poverty chains’ is essential to improve the lives of an impoverished world labour force Contemporary global capitalism is characterised by extreme wealth concentration and a rapidly expanding and largely impoverished global labour force. Mainstream institutions such as the World Bank and International Labour Organisation encourage integration into global value chains as a development strategy that, … Continue reading

12 July 2016 by
Categories: Development, Economics, Global crisis, Inequality, Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment, trade | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why we need better central bank accountability

Jacqueline Best

New reforms, underpinned by three basic principles, are needed to make central banks fully accountable As the Bank of England scrambles to respond to the economic shock of the Brexit vote, reducing the capital requirements for banks and preparing to raise interest rates once again, we are reminded once again of the power of central bankers and how much of … Continue reading

7 July 2016 by
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The Coming Crisis: Neoliberalism’s survival and the crisis of imagination

Craig Berry

To capitalise on the crisis and create a post-neoliberal economic order, progressives need new lenses for understanding everyday economic life The last crisis was one of growth.  The next crisis may be coming, but the growth crisis goes on.  Yet capitalism, which cannot countenance stagnation, has survived.  How?  This relates, among other things, to how a given distribution of wealth … Continue reading

6 July 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment, The coming crisis | Leave a comment

Rethinking Recovery: Labour market exploitation and austerity in the UK


Stopping labour exploitation requires effective regulation of the labour market, not scapegoating migrant and vulnerable workers Explaining the Conservative government’s decision to appoint a Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire declared: ‘Exploiting or coercing people into work is not acceptable.  It is not right that unscrupulous employers can force people to work or live in very poor … Continue reading

5 July 2016 by
Categories: Economics, Employment, Human rights, Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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