speri.comment: the political economy blog

The Crosland Legacy: Lessons for the British Left


Anthony Crosland’s persuasive case for social democratic ideals and insights into the nature of the economy and politics still have great resonance today Since the financial crisis erupted eight years ago in the advanced industrialised economies, the Left across Europe has been desperately searching for a new economic strategy that can replace the defunct doctrines of market liberalism. In Britain, … Continue reading

28 September 2016 by
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Corbynism, martyrdom and the other Labour split – part I

Craig Berry

Jeremy Corbyn’s destructive utopianism has been reaffirmed by Labour Party members – but there are signs of a widening divergence among Corbyn’s support base, with uncertain implications for Labour’s future After the emphatic re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, speculation that the Labour Party might split in two is intensifying. It remains uncertain whether any of … Continue reading

26 September 2016 by
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The UK is sinking deeper into property inequality – here’s why

Tom Goodfellow

In the UK and in developing countries enormous wealth is generated from property. New approaches and action is needed to value and tax property wealth Outrage has been mounting over the untaxed incomes of the global elite, foreign ownership of urban land and soaring rents in the private rental sector.  Much of this boils down to two key matters: who owns property, and how they are … Continue reading

23 September 2016 by
Categories: Inequality, SPERI Comment, Tax | Tags: , , , | 1 comment

The hollowness of GDP: The case of Ireland


Ireland’s GDP statistics highlight the disconnect between ‘official’ growth and the real economy, and raise questions about the nature of growth itself In the last decade, the prominence afforded to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in political discourse has increasingly been challenged by a series of social and environmental critiques. These critiques – made by the likes of Wilkinson and Pickett, … Continue reading

22 September 2016 by
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What if the national economy is like a household budget?

Matthew Bishop

An inexpert population frequently internalises misleading economic ideas: experts should consider engaging on these terms rather than always trying to get the economics ‘right’ In 2012/13, there were 571,334 Year 11 students in UK state schools. Just under half went on to AS Levels the following year, of which only 23,049 took economics, or 8.9% of the total. We can … Continue reading

20 September 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment | Tags: , , , , , | 16 comments

‘Eating power’ and the oligopolisation of the Haitian food economy

Version 2

As one of the world’s poorest countries, the inequities in Haiti’s local food economy are deeply rooted in its troubled history and its elite-dominated political economy ‘Nothing prepares you for Haiti’. At the closing plenary of the recent Caribbean Studies Association (CSA) Conference, the first time the conference has been held there since the CSA’s inception in 1975, Trinidadian activist … Continue reading

15 September 2016 by
Categories: Development, Economics, Global crisis, Inequality, SPERI Comment | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Mainstream economics and the crisis of imagination: Part II

Jamie Morgan

New initiatives can transform economics to make it part of the solution rather than part of the problem I concluded Part I of this blog by noting that mainstream economics is extremely influential in the world of public policy. Mainstream economic practice is predicated on policy presence, even when theory begins from caveats regarding real world relevance.  Moreover, despite the … Continue reading

13 September 2016 by
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Jeremy Corbyn: a Polanyian critique

Craig Berry

Corbynism represents a ‘fictitious commodity’ in the UK’s political marketplace Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn would be forgiven for assuming that, if one were to assess Corbynism – an admittedly crude term for the perspective of the Labour Party’s current leader and his main allies – through the prism of Karl Polanyi’s dialectical framework, the perspective represents a historical ‘counter-movement’.  As … Continue reading

8 September 2016 by
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Mainstream economics and the crisis of imagination: Part I

Jamie Morgan

In times of crisis the predictions of mainstream economics persistently fail; alternative approaches to economics are required The theme of crisis continually recurs in the SPERI political economy blog. This is a reminder of two things. First, ‘crises’ seem to be everywhere.  The language of the extraordinary has become ordinary.  Second, social reality is a process.  The present is a … Continue reading

6 September 2016 by
Categories: Economics, Inequality, SPERI Comment, The coming crisis | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Brexit means Brexit’ must not mean ‘keep calm and carry on’

John Mikler

The UK needs a long-term project of nation-building, not continuation with the neoliberal policy settings of the last 40 years. The Brexit vote demonstrated what a strikingly divided country Britain is.  Leave versus Remain voters tended to be divided along the lines of young versus old, educated versus less educated, and affluent versus poor.  Voting patterns indicated divisions between the … Continue reading

31 August 2016 by
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Is Lloyds Britain’s most boring bank?


Lloyds have embraced the ‘boring banking model’ but whether they are a trailblazer for the other major British banks or simply an outlier remains unclear. Renowned economics Professor and Financial Times columnist John Kay recently argued that the global financial crisis of 2008 had presented banks with an opportunity for reform and to shift the focus of their business. In … Continue reading

30 August 2016 by
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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
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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
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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 | 1 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
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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
Categories: Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment | Tags: | 1 comment

‘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
Categories: SPERI Comment | Tags: , , | 1 comment

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