News

Registration open for ‘In Conversation’ with Will Hutton, 3 March 2017

Will HuttonWe are delighted to welcome Will Hutton for SPERI’s fifth ‘In Conversation’ evening at 6pm, on Friday 3 March 2017 in Firth Hall at the University of Sheffield.

Places for this event are limited and we invite you to REGISTER online via eventbrite.

Will Hutton is one of the most eminent political economists in Britain. He is a writer and journalist and was formerly editor-in-chief for The Observer. He is currently Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, and Chair of the Big Innovation Centre, an initiative emanating from the Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society). He was chief executive of the Work Foundation from 2000 to 2008.

He writes a regular column for The Observer and occasionally for The Financial Times and appears regularly on television and radio commentating on economic, financial and business issues. His most recent TV documentary, ‘The Selling of Britain’, was screened on Channel 4 in March 2015.

Will’s best-known book is probably The State We’re In., which was seen at the time as setting the scene for the Blair era and became one of the top-selling books on political economy in the whole post-war period. Since then he has published The State to Come, The Stakeholding Society: Writings on Politics and Economics, On the Edge: Essays on a Runaway World (with Anthony Giddens) and The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century. His most recent book, How Good We Can Be, was published in February 2015 and has been widely read and discussed.

Professor Andrew Gamble, Professorial Fellow at SPERI, will engage Will Hutton ‘in conversation’ about the state of the British and global political economy, Brexit, populism, transatlantic relations and our hopes for the future… A Q&A session will follow.

23 January 2017 by
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Resolution Foundation report on living standards launched at Sheffield Town Hall

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley

The Resolution Foundation launched “Forging ahead or falling behind: Devolution and the future of living standards in the Sheffield City Region” yesterday evening in the Sheffield Town Hall. Its report analyses economic inequalities between cities and within cities and was presented by Stephen Clarke, Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation. He showed how the Sheffield City Region lags behind in various sectors but mostly in terms of hourly pay.

Guest discussants – Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central; Emma Stone, Director of Policy and Research at Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF); Julie Kenny CBE DL, Entrepreneur; and Craig Berry, Deputy Director at SPERI – offered their views on the strengths and weaknesses of the South Yorkshire economy. There was agreement around the lack of clarity on how a Metro mayor would help boost the economy given that devolution powers would still be minimal. Julie Kenny emphasised that it was down to local leaders to support businesses, and to business leaders to invest in their workforces and pay decent wages.

The consensus was that the South Yorkshire economy had a lot of potential, especially with the development of the advanced manufacturing sector on the former site of Orgreave. This progress shows that, with bold and courageous investments, the future prospects of the area can be much improved. The challenge is to make sure that future growth is inclusive.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A session chaired by Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation.

Media coverage:
Sheffield Star, 20 January 2017: Sheffield named ‘low pay capital’ of the UK

20 January 2017 by
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SPERI joins forces with leading parliamentarians to develop new solutions on inclusive growth

Inclusive Growth - SPERI

SPERI has today launched a new partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth – a cross-party group of senior parliamentarians – to develop solutions for a more inclusive and more equal economy.

The APPG on Inclusive Growth is backed by a range of influential individuals and organisations across politics, business, trade unions, finance, churches and faith groups and civil society, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the City of London Corporation and Oxfam.

In a joint article in today’s Guardian the APPG’s Chair, Liam Byrne MP and Professor Colin Hay, Co-Director of SPERI set out our shared agenda. They argue that we urgently need a new economic consensus and ‘the sooner we find it, the sooner we can reject once and for all the tired and flawed orthodoxy of shareholder value and trickle-down economics that took shape with such force nearly fifty years ago’.

The partnership between SPERI and the APPG will seek to develop new research that furthers the intellectual and policy debate about the nature of inclusive growth.

The APPG will hold a programme of events in Parliament, including seminars, keynote lectures and conferences throughout 2017.  The programme will begin with events on ‘the state of the inclusive growth debate’, tax reform, long-term investing and industrial strategy. The APPG aims to run the OECD’s first parliamentary network conference on inclusive growth later in the year.

Professor Colin Hay:

‘Western societies have been characterised in recent decades, and particularly since the crisis of 2008, by a profound widening in social inequality. The challenge is to understand why that is so and what can be done practically to achieve a stable and sustainable model of economic development that will reverse this trend. We look forward to working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group to lead that debate and to build practical solutions to this most urgent problem.’

Liam Byrne MP:

‘Action on inequality is simply overdue.  We know the problem but now it’s time to stop the agonising and start answering the question about just what needs to change.  And the faster we build a consensus on action, the faster change will happen.  That means we need the right people in the room hammering out solutions as to how we mend the market.’

Tom Hunt, SPERI’s Policy Research Officer, will be leading our work with the APPG. For further information about our new partnership contact Tom on tom.hunt@sheffield.ac.uk and sign up to receive news about the APPG at www.inclusivegrowth.co.uk

19 January 2017 by
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New SPERI Paper: Rethinking the fiscal and monetary political economy of the Green State

A new Paper published today by SPERI investigates an under-theorised contradiction in the political economy of the Green State; a Robyn Eckersley concept which fosters a debate on how state capacity and legitimacy can be pragmatically utilised in order to realise environmental protection. The contradiction identified centres upon the operationalisation of an interventionist state, the move beyond economic growth, and the deference afforded to the ceteris paribus conventions of state financing. The author argues that the three cannot co-exist harmoniously, given the ramifications of moving beyond growth for the fiscal capacity of the state. Therefore, there is a need to go further than even Eckersley does in re-politicising and challenging capitalist conventions. Specifically, Eckersley’s own critical constructivist approach is invoked to interrogate the capitalist conventions that constitute the constraints surrounding state financing, such as the de-politicised production of money and the viability of debt relations.

Download SPERI Paper No. 37: Rethinking the fiscal and monetary political economy of the Green State.

18 January 2017 by
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University of Sheffield PhD scholarships – Study at SPERI

office-300The University of Sheffield Faculty of Social Sciences has funding for at least 23 PhD scholarships for 2017/18 entry. These include Doctoral Academy scholarships, with further scholarships likely to be available through the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership competition.

SPERI offers a dynamic and stimulating research environment in which students work in the open-plan SPERI office at the heart of the University of Sheffield campus alongside SPERI’s staff. We seek ambitious, talented graduates or postgraduates who aspire to contribute to world-leading research and to make a difference in the world.

If you have a doctoral research proposal covering one of the areas below from a political economy perspective and wish to discuss it with a member of SPERI’s staff, please email speri@sheffield.ac.uk in the first instance and the most appropriate member of our team will get back to you.

  • Cities, Environment and Liveability
  • Security, Conflict and Justice
  • Education Childhood and Youth
  • Data, Communication and New Technologies
  • Wellbeing, Health and Communities
  • Sustainable Growth, Management and Economic Productivity
  • Civil Society, Development and Democracy

The deadline for scholarship applications is 5.00pm on 1 February 2017.

For full details of the University of Sheffield PhD scholarships and to apply online, please click here.

3 January 2017 by
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2016 SPERI Review

Our December update is looking back over an eventful 2016 and the whole SPERI team would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your support. In an uncertain world where essential values are jeopardised by increasing inequality, SPERI’s work on a new political economy seems to us to be more important than ever. This year we have published 22 papers and briefs, over 150 timely blog posts and run many events. We have exciting plans for 2017 and look forward to the new year. In the meantime we wish you a very SPERI Xmas! Read more.

2016 Review

23 December 2016 by
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Two New Honorary Research Fellows appointed at SPERI

We are very pleased that Arianna Giovannini and Daniela Gabor have been made Honorary Research Fellows at SPERI, thereby bringing the number of SPERI Honorary Research Fellows to eight.

Ariana GiovanniniArianna Giovannini is a Lecturer in Local Politics at De Montfort University (DMU) where she is also a member of the Local Governance Research Unit (LGRU) and the Centre for Urban Research and Austerity (CURA). Before joining DMU in August 2016, she was a Research Officer at SPERI, working on our joint ‘Diverging Capitalisms’ project with Policy Network and FEPS. Her research focuses on devolution and constitutional change, with a continuing emphasis on the politics and political economy of the  ‘English Question’ and the particular case of northern England.
Daniela-Gabor-120nDaniela Gabor is a Professor in Economics and Macro-finance at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research focuses on shadow banking activities, in particular ‘repo’ markets and their implications for monetary theory, central banking, sovereign bond markets and regulatory activity. Her current research projects include Managing Shadow Money (funded by INET) and the Capital Markets Union (funded by FEPS). Her research develops the theme of transnational banks’ involvement in policy deliberations around capital controls and crisis management in both global settings and in emerging markets.

Arianna’s and Daniela’s areas of research are central to SPERI’s ongoing research agenda and we look forward to future collaborations.

15 December 2016 by
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What Brexit and austerity tell us about economics, policy and the media – New SPERI Paper

SPERI-Paper-36-200We are delighted to publish the transcript of Simon Wren-Lewis’s Prize-winning Lecture: What Brexit and austerity tell us about economics, policy and the media.

In this Paper, Simon Wren-Lewis tackles the inconsistencies and inaccuracies reported in the media about austerity and Brexit. He calls for journalists to bring in academic expertise and to prick the Westminster bubble.

Simon Wren-Lewis is Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is the author of a lively, frequently updated and widely read blog, Mainly Macro, and the winner of the 2016 New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy. His talk can be watched on the SPERI youtube channel.

Download SPERI Paper No. 36: What Brexit and austerity tells us about economics, policy and the media.

14 December 2016 by
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Two successful grant bids

Two valuable projects linked to SPERI’s core research programmes have been awarded large grants.

esrc-130The first project, entitled ‘Beyond Trafficking and Slavery: Towards Decent Work for All’, has been awarded to Dr Genevieve LeBaron as part of the ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund Networks.

Through the grant, LeBaron and her collaborators will bring together global stakeholders to map the knowledge terrain and co-define an original research agenda around the 8th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 8). This aims to achieve “decent work for all” through what Target 8.7 describes as “immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour” by 2030.

Genevieve is a Co-Investigator on the grant, along with Professors Julia O’Connell Davidson (Bristol), Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University), Joel Quirk (University of the Witwatersrand) and Drs Azfar Khan (International Labour Organization) and Neil Howard (European University Institute). The team will be led by Dr Prabha Kotiswaran of the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College, London.

n8-130The second project, which is entitled: ‘Towards understanding the relationship between food insecurity, socioeconomic status and obesity in families in Northern England: A strategically important multidisciplinary project’ has ben awarded to Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford as part of a successful application to the N8 Agri-food pump priming scheme.

Led by Dr Emma Boyland (University of Liverpool), the aim of the collaborative project is to establish the fundamental relationships between household food insecurity (HHFiS), socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity in families with primary school aged children in northern England.

The research will involve a quantitative survey-based study across northern England, specifically the north west (Liverpool, Manchester) and north east (Leeds, Sheffield). The work is expected to mark the beginning of further collaborative work in the area. The research team also includes Dr Alison Fildes (University of Leeds) and Dr Samantha Caton, Dr Paul Christiansen and Dr David Taylor-Robinson (all University of Liverpool).

13 December 2016 by
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SPERI-CBMNET: Social and political challenges for the bioeconomy

IMG_9928-250SPERI Deputy Director Craig Berry and SPERI Research Fellow Martin Craig gave presentations at a two-day conference on the Social and Political Challenges for the Bioeconomy. The two-day event was organised by CBMNET, the ‘Crossing biological membranes’ network at the University of Sheffield, Science and Technology in Society (SATiS), and SPERI. It brought together a large number of UK industrial biotechnology leaders and academics to discuss the challenges of bioeconomy and intends to forge new collaborations between delegates, who can go on to apply for funding to begin to solve these problems.

Craig Berry’s presentation took as a focus the current state of UK Industrial policy and how the Bioeconomy fits into this policy.IMG_9951-250 Craig stressed the importance of looking at how industrial policy is helping in other countries and highlighted that  we must recognise and invest in biotech innovation that genuinely supports sustainability.

Martin Craig’s presentation developed some of these themes and looked in detail at ‘Treasury Control’ and its implications for green industrial strategy and the bioeconomy. You can access his slides here.

The conference raised a number of important questions on bioeconomy which will feed into future programmes of CBMNET.

 

12 December 2016 by
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EU economic governance after Brexit: Governing a disintegrating Europe – New Brief

Brief-2-EU-200We are pleased to publish the second Brief of a series drawing on the project ‘Diverging Capitalisms? Britain, the City of London and Europe’, led by FEPS, Policy Network and SPERI.

In this Brief Lucia Quaglia, University of York, and Waltraud Schelkle, London School of Economics, provide new insights on how fragmented political and economic interests, both internationally and intra-nationally, have been shaping EU economic policy-making in the wake of the global financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis and the UK’s referendum on EU membership. It transpires that playing the ‘two-level game’ of EU and national politics has become extremely perilous and that integration and disintegration are taking place in parallel.

The findings presented in this Brief take the analysis developed as part of the workshop entitled ‘Diverging Capitalisms, Part 2: Brexit and new EU economic governance’ held in London in October 2016.

Download Brief No. 2: EU economic governance after Brexit: Governing a disintegrating Europe

29 November 2016 by
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New Brief: Scotland and the North of England: Sub-national economic development and the UK’s finance-led growth model

Brief-26-200

A new SPERI British Political Economy Brief ‘Scotland and the North of England, published today, compares economic development in Scotland and the North of England since the creation of the Scottish parliament in 1999.

Authored by Scott Lavery, the Brief focuses on two major sectors – finance and manufacturing – and shows that despite enjoying distinct ‘devolved’ policymaking competences, Scotland’s economic trajectory since devolution has closely mirrored that of the North of England. In terms of manufacturing output and employment, both Scotland and the North of England have experienced similar patterns of decline since 1999. In financial services, both Scotland and the North of England have failed to maintain their share of financial services markets relative to the UK average and in relation to London in particular.

This trend has intensified since the 2008 crisis. The author argues that despite differences in regional economic governance institutions, Scotland and the North of England share important structural features. Both regions therefore face similar economic challenges in the years ahead. These give rise to a number of questions for policymakers in Scotland, the North of England and Westminster respectively.

Download SPERI British Political Economy Brief No. 26: Scotland and the North of England: Sub-national economic development and the UK’s finance-led growth model.

Scott Lavery, SPERI Research Fellow and author of the new brief: 

When the Scottish parliament was reconvened in 1999, it was widely argued that this would lead to a ‘devolution dividend’ whereby the parliament’s new devolved powers would allow Scottish policy makers to boost economic performance. However, the evidence suggests that devolution has not brought about a significant shift in Scotland’s economic fundamentals. Manufacturing has slumped from 17 per cent of Scotland’s economic output in 1999 to 11 per cent according to the latest figures.
This has been paralleled by a significant decline in manufacturing employment, which has fallen from 322,000 in 1999 to 198,000 today.
These shifts mirror similar declines across the North of England, suggesting that Scotland’s devolved powers have not allowed Scottish policymakers to escape broader structural changes in the UK economy.

What is more, Scotland has not experienced a boom in its financial sector in relation to the rest of the UK and in particular in comparison to London. In 1999, Scotland’s financial sector output amounted to 81 per cent of the UK average. While by 2006 this figure had increased to 90 per cent, since the 2008 crash, Scotland has seen its financial sector output fall to 79 per cent the UK average. Scotland has therefore failed to maintain its share of UK financial services, particularly over recent years.
This has important implications for financial sector employment. Of the regions we studied, only London has seen its financial sector employment increase since 2009, by 10 per cent. In contrast, Scotland has seen financial sector employment fall from 94,000 to 85,000 – a decline of 10 per cent.

27 November 2016 by
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George Osborne is gone, but Osbornomics is not forgotten: Craig Berry reacts to Autumn Statement 2016

Craig Berry, SPERI Deputy Director, analyses today’s statement in an article for the Huffington Post. The full text is available below.
Craig Berry, SPERI Deputy Director

Craig Berry, SPERI Deputy Director

Philip Hammond’s most interesting announcement was that today’s Autumn Statement will be his last as well as his first – the Budget will switch to spring from autumn, and spring will see only a fiscal and economic update rather than any policy changes. This is a well-crafted effort by Hammond to present himself, in contrast to his predecessor George Osborne, as a more sober, sombre and cautious Chancellor of the Exchequer – just the kind of finance minister Britain needs in this period of turmoil. In reality, however, Hammond is doing a very good impression of Osborne on the substance of fiscal policy.

Hammond has tweaked Osborne’s fiscal rules to give himself a little more room for manoeuvre given the expected economic impact of Brexit. As such, he is promising now to achieve budget surplus at some point in the next parliament – rather similar to John McDonnell’s promise, despite the Conservatives’ persistent demonisation of Labour statecraft. McDonnell’s promise is itself rather similar to Ed Balls’ promise, despite Labour’s persistent demonisation of New Labour.

Osborne’s rules were of course always rather flexible, since he was simply able to postpone the date at which they would be met. The illusory idea that fiscal policy should be governed by rules remains firmly in place, and Hammond’s success in cornering Labour into valorising fiscal discipline, even under a leader elected (twice) on a radical anti-austerity platform, is one indebted to the Osborne playbook. Austerity is no longer in vogue, but austerity politics is here to stay.

Hammond’s statement essentially confirms what Osborne was always reluctant to admit: that Britain’s economy remains profoundly dependent on public debt. Public debt is set to rise enormously under Hammond’s stewardship (by £122 billion above Osborne’s final forcecast, over the next five years). Crucially, this borrowing is not being used to fund new investments in infrastructure and Britain’s productive capacity which might at last have put our economy on a path towards sustainable recovery.

There will be some new funds for public investment in R&D, but rather meagre funds compared to those being borrowed simply to maintain the levels of general public expenditure that Osborne had committed to, as tax revenues have been revised down. As a result, the Office for Budget Responsibility is expecting productivity growth to decelerate, despite Hammond’s interventions. This problem cannot be disentangled from Brexit, but the main, immediate cause will be lower-than-anticipated business investment. The Conservatives’ persistent failure to reorient private investment towards the long term shows few signs of being abated.

Public debt is of course not a bad thing – it is a necessary and normal part of macroeconomic management, and vital to industrial policy. But Hammond follows Osborne in presenting it as a bad thing, despite creating lots more of it. This explains Hammonds rejection of Theresa May’s suggestion that the government should issue Infrastructure Bonds. And it helps to explain why one of the most significant announcements in today’s Autumn Statement – the granting of new borrowing powers to metro mayors – feels punitive rather than empowering for local government. The powers will only be granted to the new mayoral offices if strict constraints are agreed with the Treasury in advance – and the detailed document accompanying the statement in parliament also contains an intriguing reference to the possibility that local authorities may in future be able to borrow directly from the Treasury (at a cost higher than the Treasury itself borrows from the private sector).

Falling productivity growth is one of the reasons that earnings growth in Britain remains so sluggish. Hammond aped Osborne is seeking to present himself as the champion of low-earners by accelerating the increase in the so-called national living wage (NLW). But utility of the NLW in boosting household incomes is starting to level off, a trend that would only be mitigated by a much more significant and immediate rise, towards, say, the real living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. The NLW increase is of course very unlikely to keep pace with the cost of living rises resulting from the depreciation of sterling triggered by the Brexit vote (which will disproportionately affect poorer groups who spend more of their income on food).

Hammond has also stuck with Osborne’s plan of increasing the personal income tax allowance, presenting it (as per usual) as a policy which will benefit the poorest groups, when it will almost exclusively benefit middle- and high-earners. An increase in higher rate tax threshold and the regressive insurance premium tax (both of which Osborne initiated) will compound this effect.

It is worth noting finally that as dire as today’s economic forecasts are for the government, things could be about to get a whole lot worse. Crucially, the OBR has effectively factored a ‘soft Brexit’ into its assumptions – and indeed a quick Brexit. Its forecasts are based on the expectation that immigration, imports and exports will all fall in the next five years – just not by very much. The OBR is expecting some form of agreement on free movement of goods and workers between Britain and the EU to be put in place within two years of Article 50 being triggered in March, that is, the point at which Britain will formally leave the EU.

This might be where we end up (I have indeed predicted as much!) but there is at least some possibility, to say the least, that we might not. Moreover, it is worth pointing out that, at this moment in time, soft Brexit is not actually government policy. Several members of the cabinet are continuing to make the case for hard Brexit, and while May continues to procrastinate, it seems the OBR is getting ahead of itself. Yet, as I document in Austerity Politics and UK Economic Policy, the OBR is no stranger to fixing assumptions that, one way or another, end up favouring the Chancellor of the day – just ask George Osborne.

23 November 2016 by
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Simon Wren-Lewis delivers the New Statesman/SPERI Prize lecture

IMG_9374-250The winner of the 2016 New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy is Professor Simon Wren-Lewis. Yesterday evening Professor Wren-Lewis delivered his prize lecture to an audience at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster on “What Brexit and austerity tell us about economics, policy and the media”.

The biennial prize is jointly run by the New Statesman and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) It is given to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience over the preceding two or three years. The first New Statesman/SPERI Prize was won in 2014 by Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex.

Professor Wren-Lewis’ prize lecture explored why the media fails to accurately report the consensus view from academic economists about the risks of austerity and Brexit to the economy. He argued that political coverage in the broadcast media needs to prick the Westminster bubble and open itself up to economic expertise.

Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI:

“Following Brexit and Trump’s victory these are highly uncertain times and the media’s role in the political process is under great scrutiny. As such it is more important than ever for academics like Simon to inform the public debate and communicate their academic expertise.
“Throughout his career Simon Wren-Lewis has produced critical, important and original ideas in political economy and always maintained a strong commitment to public engagement. His lecture was a powerful illustration of this and demonstrated why he was awarded this year’s NS/SPERI prize.”

Upon receiving the prize Simon Wren-Lewis said:

 “I am delighted and honoured to receive the New Statesman/SPERI Prize, and I confess a little surprised given the strength of the shortlist. The move to austerity in most of the major countries in 2010 showed the importance of communicating economic knowledge to both policy makers and the public, and helped inspire my own efforts in that direction. As that policy continued despite mounting evidence of the harm it was doing, it became important to understand why policymakers were ignoring the academic consensus. With Brexit we find this consensus apparently ignored by the public.”

Simon Wren-Lewis is a highly respected macroeconomist who has advised the Bank of England and is now a professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is the author of a lively, frequently updated and widely read blog, Mainly Macro.

23 November 2016 by
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Two New SPERI Pivots Published

The series, ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research & Policy’, now counts 7 volumes with the addition of two exciting new books.

India-growth-150The Political Economy of India’s Growth Episodes

by Sabyasachi Kar and Kunal Sen

This book breaks down the last 65+ years of Indian development into several episodes of growth, providing a rich set of insights into the political economy of the Indian development process. The first of these episodes, running from the 1950s to 1992, was mostly characterised by economic stagnation, with a nascent recovery in the eighties. The second, covering the period 1993 to 2001, witnessed the first growth acceleration in the economy. A second acceleration ran from 2002 to 2010. The fourth and final episode started with the slowdown in 2010 and continues to this day. The book provides a theoretical framework that focuses on rent-structures, institutions and the polity and demonstrates how changes in these can explain the ups and downs of growth in India.

MartinCraig-Palgrave-150Ecological Political Economy and the Socio-Ecological Crisis

by Martin Craig

This book critically syntheses a range of disparate literatures and debates and asks what is at stake in mounting a decisive response to the ‘socio-ecological crisis’ – a crisis of humanity’s relationship with the rest of nature that places social life as we know it in jeopardy. Martin Craig proposes that political economists within and beyond the field of political ecology make an indispensable contribution to the diagnosis of this crisis and the formulation of prescriptions for its resolution. In a wide-ranging yet concise exposition, he assesses the fraught relationship between capitalist societies and the biosphere of which they are a part and urges a renewed emphasis on political-economic structure and strategy when considering responses to the crisis. The result is a proposal for a critical yet inclusive research enterprise – ‘ecological political economy’ – within which a wide variety of researchers can readily participate.

All the books of the series can be purchased online from Palgrave.

22 November 2016 by
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Michael Jacobs calls for economic rethink in USP-SPERI public lecture

MC-presenting-300In a public lecture co-hosted by SPERI and the Department of  Urban Studies and Planning, leading economist Michael Jacobs called for a rethink of economic orthodoxy and the embracing of innovation to address increasing inequality.

Professor Michael Jacobs, Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy (UCL), detailed the flaws in mainstream economic thinking that have led to a prolonged period of low growth and stagnating living standards. It touched on many of the arguments included in his recently launched book Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, co-edited with Professor Mariana Mazzucato, winner of the 2014 NewStatesman-SPERI Prize for Political Economy.

The book brings together leading economists, including Joseph Stiglitz, Carlota Perez and Andrew Haldane, to challenge orthodox ideas about economic theory and the policies that result from it, as well as providing alternatives that could build more sustainable and inclusive economies.

MJ-audience-1-300During the hour long talk, Professor Jacobs criticised the failure of current economic policies to encourage innovation and investment, as well as the inability of contemporary capitalism to achieve fair distributions of income and wealth and tackle global issues such as climate change.

A lively Q&A with the 250-strong audience followed with questions on the Paris climate agreement, government debt and spending, and the acceptance of economic orthodoxy by the political left.

The lecture is available to watch online on the SPERI Youtube channel.

18 November 2016 by
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SPERI’s Deputy Director to speak alongside Dan Jarvis MP at Resolution Foundation event in Sheffield

Resolution FoundationAs part of a new investigation into living standards in British cities, the Resolution Foundation (RF) is holding events across England this winter – in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Bristol – to explore the unique challenges faced in different areas, and how Metro Mayors can use their new powers to be the driving force behind a new era of inclusive prosperity. Click here for more information on RF ‘A Tale of Four Cities’ event series.

SPERI is particularly delighted to be participating in and supporting the Sheffield leg of this series. SPERI’s Deputy Director Craig Berry will speak on the Northern economy and devolution, alongside Dan Jarvis MP, Nick Clegg MP, Emma Stone of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Stephen Clark of RF. The event will be chaired by RF’s Director Torsten Bell.

The event will be held in the Mandela Room of Sheffield Town Hall from 18:00-19:30 on Thursday 19thJanuary, with refreshments provided. Click here to register.

17 November 2016 by
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Negotiating Flexibility at UNGASS 2016: Solving the ‘World Drug Problem’? – New Global Political Economy Brief

Global-Brief-5-200Today, SPERI is publishing a Global Political Economy Brief summarising and analysing key aspects of the political economy of the so called ‘War on Drugs’.

Prohibition, led by the US, has been the favoured policy to counter drugs since the 1960s, but in recent years a number of significant shifts have taken place and stimulated calls for reform. In April 2016, the United Nations General Assembly held a Special Session (UNGASS) on the ‘World Drug Problem’. UNGASS 2016 did not secure the radical reforms that many wished to see.

Six months on from the special session, this SPERI Global Political Economy Brief assesses the consequences of UNGASS 2016: it explores why the special session was called; assesses what actually happened at UNGASS, both before and after; and analyses the implications for a creaking global drug regime. It concludes by reflecting on how the ‘world drug problem’ is as far from being ‘solved’ as ever, but argues that this may be no bad thing: there actually exist many different drug problems with many different potential solutions, and the gradual unravelling of prohibitionism is ultimately something to be celebrated, even if this undermines current forms of global narcotics governance.

Download SPERI Global Political Economy Brief No. 5: Negotiating Flexibility at UNGASS 2016: Solving the ‘World Drug Problem’?

16 November 2016 by
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Third Workshop on the Political Economy of Brexit

WhiteRoseThe third instalment of the SPERI White Rose research project on the ‘Political Economy of Brexit’, led by Scott Lavery, took place on Wednesday 9th November at the University of Leeds. Organised by Charlie Dannreuther, the workshop examined the impact of Brexit on Britain’s infrastructure and investment and focused on how leaving the EU might affect a number of key areas of the economy including finance, energy and agriculture.

This was the third workshop in the series and followed on from our previous two workshops held at the University of York (finance and trade) and the University of Sheffield (labour markets) respectively.

The first of the day’s three panels focused upon fiscal and industrial policy and the future role of FDI. The panel noted that while Brexit might have opened-up space for a more interventionist industrial strategy, considerable domestic and international barriers remain which could undermine this agenda. The consensus across the panel was that Brexit would likely have negative implications for inwards investment.

The second panel considered the increasing trend towards the commodification, privatisation and financialisation of Britain’s infrastructure. The panel discussed how Britain is dependent upon FDI to fund new projects and that Brexit could result in a flight of investment undermining Britain’s ability to secure its energy transition.

The day’s keynote address was given by Emeritus Professor Wyn Grant of the University of Warwick who looked at the implication of Brexit for Britain’s agricultural policy. In particular, Professor Grant focused on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, its disappearance and what might replace it.

The final panel of the day of the discussed the issue of street level investment post Brexit. The panellists noted that structural weakness in the UKs financial system would be further exacerbated by the exit of Britain from Europe. In particular, the unconventional monetary policy of the Bank of England coupled with a general decline in bank lending to SMEs and a withdrawal of the European Investment Bank as a stream of funding means that it is increasingly unlikely that direct credit flow or capital market funds would be directed towards infrastructure investment.

For further information regarding this workshop series and SPERI’s European Capitalism and the Crises of the European Union project please contact the programme leader Scott Lavery.

15 November 2016 by
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SPERI at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Marrakech

logo-VF-NSPERI Doctoral Researcher, Kaisa Pietilä, will be joining leading academics from the University of Sheffield in attending the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP22) in Marrakech from 12-18 November 2016.

Kaisa is part of the 2016 Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures PhD cohort which aims to build a global community of sustainability leaders of tomorrow.

Kaisa’s research focuses on sustainable resource use and its implications for economic growth, looking at whether it is possible to envisage environmentally sustainable growth.

Last year’s conference in Paris led to a historic deal to prevent global temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. In response, COP22 will focus on the actions needed to achieve the priorities of the Paris Agreement, encouraging countries to commit to a low-carbon economy.

Aside from climate change, projections show that by 2050 the demand for food and energy will double and the need for clean water will increase by more than 50 per cent. The global population is expected to reach 10 billion. Researchers from the University’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and Energy 2050 institute will share their expertise on food security and sustainable energy with leaders and delegates from across the world at the COP in Marrakech.

10 November 2016 by
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