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speri.comment: the political economy blog

The ideological shifts, economics and geopolitics of the Italian elections

The agenda of Italy’s new anti-liberal, Eurosceptic and pro-Russian government could have significant ramifications far beyond Italy This post elucidates on the three key implications following the 2018 Italian general elections and the recent appointment of Italy’s new government: the consolidation of anti-liberal ideologies, the impact of a potential Italian exit from the euro on global financial stability, the geopolitical … Continue reading

12 June 2018 by
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Book Review: Extracting Profit: Imperialism, Neoliberalism, and the New Scramble for Africa

Lee Wengraf provides an important reminder that Africa’s position within the world economy is heavily determined by its unequal insertion into the global capitalist system and ongoing manifestations of imperialism. A focus on politics within African countries might offer further pointers as to how this status quo is reproduced and how it might be changed. The idea of ‘Africa Rising’ … Continue reading

11 June 2018 by
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Three lessons the labour movement must learn from the Fight for 15 at Walmart

Social media, the power of reputational damage and effective communications are powerful tools for trade union organising Across Europe trade union strength is diminishing. In many countries union membership is falling. Even where membership and collective bargaining appear robust this is mainly due to legal supports rather than unions’ retaining structural power. Sectoral agreements are being hollowed out and the … Continue reading

8 June 2018 by
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A call for the revival of political and economic education

Political and economic education is pitiful, and via political parties, the education system and trade unions, it desperately needs to be revived One way we participate in democracy is by voting. Another may be protesting, or through supporting some trade union action. However we engage, we are doing so armed with some knowledge about the current state of affairs, and … Continue reading

7 June 2018 by
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Embracing data is key to the future of unions

Learning to read and predict our changing environment through strategic use of data is crucial for the survival of trade unions “Will you be happy when the last union office turns its lights off? Is that what success looks like?” This is a challenge Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, sometimes lays down to employers and HR professionals, evoking an … Continue reading

6 June 2018 by
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Building up the bundle of sticks. New ideas for union organising

A new mini-series of blogs, published by SPERI and openDemocracy, will present new ideas for how unions can organise and engage with the workforce. “A trade union is like a bundle of sticks. The workers are bound together and have the strength of unity … A worker who is not in a union is like a single stick. She can … Continue reading

5 June 2018 by
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How does the geographic spread of a bank’s subsidiaries affect its value?

Georgios Efthyvoulou

Our new research show that the values of banks in emerging countries are highly responsive to their internationalisation strategies From the mid-1990s and up until the onset of the global financial crisis, the internationalisation of financial institutions increased dramatically. The main contributing factors to this phenomenon were the liberalisation and deregulation of financial markets, the higher demand for international financial … Continue reading

4 June 2018 by
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Missing: the smallest states are absent in international political economy analysis

Small Island Developing States and Small Vulnerable Economies are not present in the academic literature on international norms. A new two-part blog will consider why. Broadly speaking, small states have made significant contributions to global norms in international relations, meaning, they have contributed to establishing standards of expected behaviors for countries to adopt. However, except for a few scholars looking at … Continue reading

1 June 2018 by
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The politics and economics of Brexit

Brexit may dominate in the UK but it is just one of several challenges to governance and integration facing the EU The British referendum on continuing membership of the European Union (EU) in June 2016 represented a turning point in the relationship between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU. In March 2017, the British government under Prime Minister Theresa … Continue reading

25 May 2018 by
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Book Review: Flawed Capitalism: The Anglo-American Condition and its Resolution

Scott Lavery

David Coates’ critique of Anglo-American capitalism is devastating; his optimism about transforming it is welcome. The left must now develop a political strategy capable of overcoming structural barriers to reform Global orders rise and global orders fall. That much we know. The difficult questions arise when we examine those moments of transition between phases of capitalist development. The post-crash world … Continue reading

23 May 2018 by
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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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