speri.comment: the political economy blog

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
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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

Breaking up is hard to do

Professor Andrew Gamble

Early pointers to what the future may hold for post-Brexit Britain The consequences of the Brexit vote will take many years to be fully understood, and there are likely to be many twists and surprises on the way.  But here are a few pointers to what the future may hold. The Conservatives will unite Events since the Referendum result have … Continue reading

4 July 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment | Tags: | 2 comments

Rethinking Recovery: Recovery for whom?

Genevieve LeBaron

Corporate profits are soaring, but so is labour exploitation. Who is the ‘recovery’ really benefiting? Has the labour market ‘recovered’ since the 2008-09 financial crisis? The answer to this question depends on whom you ask. The labour market is a central part of the UK’s ‘economic recovery’ narrative advanced by political and economic elites. In his address on June 27th … Continue reading

4 July 2016 by
Categories: Employment, Rethinking Recovery, SPERI Comment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking control? The trade policy consequences of Brexit


The only thing uniting the contradictory strands of the trade policy discourse for Brexit was the refrain of ‘taking control’. But in the post-Brexit landscape that will prove more difficult to achieve. During the EU referendum campaign, the official Vote Leave campaign claimed (echoed by the alternative Leave.EU campaign) that Brexit would allow Britain to ‘take back control of [its] … Continue reading

30 June 2016 by
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Britain and Brexit: the earthquake and its aftershocks

Simon Bulmer

Six key issues reveal the early impact of the Brexit earthquake, but this is uncharted territory and more aftershocks will follow Whether you regard the referendum result with delight or dismay, what is already clear is that it has created an earthquake in British politics, with the tremors extending to mainland Europe as well. This outcome is the biggest challenge … Continue reading

29 June 2016 by
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From Brexit reflex to Brexistential crisis

Colin Hay

How did we get here – and where, exactly, is here? Just a little over five months ago I ‘predicted’, in the Cassandra-esque manner to which I am sometimes accustomed, Brexit, the breakup of Britain and a second global financial crisis. I very much hoped – as I made clear at the time – that my prophecy, like so many … Continue reading

28 June 2016 by
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Brexit = austerity squared

Craig Berry

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is a product, ironically, of the political elite’s longstanding aversion to democratic self-rule The UK has voted to leave the European Union; well, technically. In practice, the 17.5 million people voting for Brexit will have been voting for many different things, not all of which are relevant to the EU or the UK’s … Continue reading

28 June 2016 by
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Brexit and the left: heading deeper into the void?

Owen Parker

The support in traditional Labour party heartlands for leaving the EU should serve as a wake up call for the British and European left The decision of a sizeable number of working class Britons to vote to leave the EU on 23rd June was a significant factor in the outcome of the EU referendum. According to polling data 60+% of … Continue reading

27 June 2016 by
Categories: EU Referendum, Europe and the EU, SPERI Comment | Tags: , | 1 comment

Tactics without strategy: Brexit and the politics of conceit


The political and economic forces unleashed by the referendum result now pose profound challenges for Leave politicians and the Labour Party With two million Conservative voters seemingly ‘undecided’ last week and Labour voters preponderantly pro-Remain but susceptible to no-shows at the ballot booth, it was tempting to presume before the vote that an event of this magnitude might be decided … Continue reading

27 June 2016 by
Categories: SPERI Comment | Tags: , | 2 comments

Repost: Brexistential Crisis – what would Cassandra say?

Colin Hay

In January Colin Hay, SPERI’s co-director, predicted that Britain would vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Today as that prediction (in the manner of Cassandra) comes to pass we’re reposting Colin’s article which goes on to make two further predictions about the break-up of Britain and a second financial crisis. Prediction is a dark art – a terrain … Continue reading

24 June 2016 by
Categories: EU Referendum, Europe and the EU, SPERI Comment | Tags: , , | 3 comments

The Coming Crisis: The dangers of indecent work

Genevieve LeBaron

To prevent another economic crisis, we must address the spread and normalization of indecent work Global capitalism’s promise was to pull people out of poverty by creating decent work. It hasn’t delivered, and an escalating jobs crisis is now at the centre of the global economy’s ‘gathering storm.’ As of 2014, over 200 million people in the world were unemployed … Continue reading

22 June 2016 by
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