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Ronald Coase in Beijing
On the eve of the financial crisis, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing posited the advent of a world-equalizing market state in China. Christopher Connery now takes a sardonic look at the country’s ‘institutional economics’ through the eyes of an idiosyncratic English Hayekian.
The CPC and the Ancien Régime
Roots of the PRC’s legitimating ideology in the longue durée of Chinese history, as source of the Party’s confidence that it need not imitate Western models in the coming century. Peter Nolan sets out the view from Zhongnanhai on the desirable relation between market and state—a potential alternative to the current world order?
If speech can—in the famous argument of J. L. Austin—not only be true or false, but also do things, what about economic models? And what about when models go wrong, or actually undermine their own assumptions? Black–Scholes, gamma traps and gaming—a typology of the perverse effects of some key financial tools.
Ecologies of Scale
Eco-economist Herman Daly presents a practical programme for an egalitarian, steady-state economy. From Smith and Mill to Georgescu and Schumacher, Daly and Benjamin Kunkel debate problems of development, quantitative and qualitative, and biophysical equilibrium. If the world economy is conceived as a sub-system of a larger eco-system, what are the limits to growth?
A New Economics
John Grahl on Anwar Shaikh, Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises. An ambitious recasting of economic thought, from classical political economy to the mathematized present, in a synthesis aiming at realistic capture of the vicissitudes of contemporary capitalism.
The Coming Exception
The artwork has long been understood as a political-economic anomaly, while art practice is sometimes seen as a stand-in for liberated human activity. With value itself seemingly in a state of crisis, might the artwork prefigure a world beyond it? From Ruskin and Whistler to Harun Farocki, Sven Lütticken charts the trajectory of an exception.
The Economic Life of Things
Collection and asset—two ideal-typical logics through which value and price are established and objects ‘enriched’. From luxury goods to heritage villages and the mimetic effects of speculation; as industrial production is transferred to East Asia, the emergence of a new kind of capitalist economy.
A Structuralism of Feeling?
Frédéric Lordon’s work combines an elite business-school training with a radical Regulation Theory background, highly effective polemics against the hardening economic and neo-imperial orders in France and the Eurozone with an ambitious social-philosophical agenda. Alberto Toscano investigates.
Why the Euro Divides Europe
A landmark critique of Smithian notions of money as neutral medium of exchange, naturalized in social theory from Parsons to Habermas. Arguing instead for Weber’s concept of money as weapon in the market struggle, Wolfgang Streeck reveals how the single currency has transformed Europe’s qualitative horizontal diversity into quantitative vertical inequality.
The Openness Paradigm
Hailed by management gurus as a new strategy for hard-pressed companies in the advanced economies, the ‘open business model’ aims to transform post-Fordism’s flexibilized forms of production—with, Nancy Ettlinger argues, bleak prospects for global labour.
How Will Capitalism End?
Its challengers apparently vanquished, the main threat to capitalism may now come from disorders that lurk within the system itself. Wolfgang Streeck diagnoses its crisis symptoms, from persistent stagnation to global anarchy, and asks what lies in store as they multiply.
The Crises of Democratic Capitalism
The roots of today’s Great Recession are usually located in the financial excesses of the 1990s. Wolfgang Streeck traces a much longer arc, from 1945 onwards, of tensions between the logic of markets and the wishes of voters—culminating, he argues, in the international tempest of debt that now threatens to submerge democratic accountability altogether beneath the storm-waves of capital.
Value Theory and the Chinese Worker
In answer, Blackburn explores the paradoxes of fictitious capital, underwritten by super-exploitation of China’s producers. A public-utility credit system, democratic forms of nationalization and mechanisms to socialize investment as steps towards financial dual power.
Colletti on the Credit Crunch
What political opportunities arise from the current financial crisis? In a critical response to Robin Blackburn’s essay in NLR 50, Geoff Mann proposes the insights of Marx’s theory of value as a starting point for thinking beyond capitalist social relations—as Blackburn’s measures, he argues, do not.
More System, Please!
Commending Brenner’s overall narrative of post-war economic development, Kozo Yamamura holds it to be nevertheless too narrow—needing more attention to modern capital markets, to historical cycles of technological change, and to institutional differences between the leading industrial states.
Into a New Growth Regime
Should the story of contemporary capitalism be told as essentially an American tale? Counterposing a more Braudelian understanding of the global economy to Brenner’s approach, Michel Aglietta sees a new mode of regulation, and distribution of growth, emerging out of the Asian crisis of the nineties.
Profits of Doom?
Can the economic history of the past three to four decades be accurately depicted as a long downturn? Contesting Robert Brenner’s account of them in his Economics of Global Turbulence, Nicholas Crafts argues that the ‘Great Moderation’ is a better description of a period in which the United States came to enjoy a strong lead in productivity growth.
The Historian as Haruspex
Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing proposes a bold new political-economic patterning of China’s rise, America’s decline. Mark Elvin examines the assumptions behind narratives of divergent West and East, and the parameters that will define a reconfigured world order.
A New Global Financial Architecture?
As the world economy shows growing signs of vulnerability, what mechanisms exist for averting repeats of the Asian or Mexican crises? Banking and regulatory regimes as instruments of standardization, pulling national economies into Anglo-American orbits.
The Chinese Road
The PRC’s breakneck transition to capitalism seen through the prism of 19th-century Europe and America, as its cities rehearse the processes analysed by Marx: commodification of land and labour, formation of markets and capitalist elites. What lessons might the West’s past hold for China’s future?
A balance-sheet of Russia’s post-Soviet fortunes, placing the devastating collapse of the 1990s and recent revival under Putin in comparative context. Vladimir Popov warns of the dangers—overvalued currency, oil dependence, crumbling infrastructure—on the road ahead.
The Curve of American Power
Will strategic failure in Iraq hasten a decline in US hegemony? Immanuel Wallerstein surveys the global landscape that might emerge from the longue durée of American rule, with rival regional powers competing for energy, water and markets in an unstructured world-political order.
East Asia’s Dollars
Discussions of the sustainability of the US current-account deficit—trending upward from $800bn—rarely plumb the long-term motives of its creditors. Taggart Murphy analyses the historical roots of Tokyo’s post-1868 geofinancial support for the ruling superpower, London or Washington, and the implications of China’s rise for Japanese strategy.
Finance and the Fourth Dimension
The concept of alternative futures, banished from postmodernity’s eternal present, flourishes on the financial summits of the global economy. Robin Blackburn argues against a neo-Luddite dismissal of the new financial engineering techniques by the Left, while coolly assessing the economic and social costs of their current configurations.
Choking the South
Charting the impact of fluctuating currencies, volatile stock markets and interest rates on the developing world since the end of the Bretton Woods system, Robert Wade contends that untrammelled mobility of capital—private funds above all—reinforces dynamics of debt and underdevelopment.
Superintending Global Capital
The end of US hegemony has been announced more often even than that of neoliberalism. Yet American power persists, with little resistance so far from rival centres of accumulation. Rationales and indices of the continuing role of the United States as overlord of world capital.
In the conclusion to his major two-part essay on the new US imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi situates the contradictions of the current American ‘spatial fix’ for the problems of overaccumulation in the context of a longue durée of systemic cycles. Have Washington’s attempts to secure its world role through the invasion of Iraq instead hastened the rise of China?
In the first part of a major engagement with David Harvey’s New Imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi sets out the interlocking dynamics, spatial and temporal, of capitalist development and imperialism. Should US difficulties in Iraq and the ballooning current-account deficit be read as symptoms of a deeper-lying crisis, a shift from hegemony to dominance presaging the rise of a new East Asian challenger?
The Social and Political Economy of Global Turbulence
In a landmark engagement with Robert Brenner’s account of the long downturn of the world economy since the 70s, Giovanni Arrighi lays out a social and political economy of the roles of labour unrest, national liberation and corporate financialization in the crisis of the post-war order, and the prospects for a militarized US hegemony today.
Can stakeholder variants of capitalism in east Asia or Europe resist the rise to global dominance of Anglo-American shareholder value? John Grahl argues that ‘exit’ trumps ‘voice’—disembedded forms of corporate finance are inherently more capable of spreading uniformly round the world than embedded ones, which remain particular to local settings. The misfortunes of the euro as a portent of US pressures to come.
Will Global Capitalism be Anglo-Saxon Capitalism?
A decade ago, German and Japanese capitalism were widely held superior in economic performance and social cohesion to American or British. Now the stockmarket-based, deregulated US/UK model has the upper hand in market competition. Will it force all other societies to conform to its rules? Ronald Dore doubts it.
Managed Openness: Beyond Neoliberal Globalism
There are two recurring themes that continue to stir interest in the topic of economic globalization. One concerns the character of the global system that is apparently being created through the integration of production, finance, and trade. Can the world economy be selfequilibrating, as many of the more . . . read more
Imperialism and the Rise and Decline of the British Economy, 1688-1989
Historians seldom consider the metanarratives within which academic articles, monographs, models and analyses must eventually become embedded, if they are to inform public debate in modern societies. Yet, however micro the problems they tackle, their findings can always be situated within some ‘greater story’. Since the Second World . . . read more
Harnessing the Market
The clearest and most concise statement of John Roemer’s project in A Future for Socialism occurs at the end of his book. In its concluding chapter he summarizes his argument as pivoting on two ‘crucial ideas’—the idea that ‘socialism is best thought of as a kind of egalitarianism, . . . read more
The 'Crisis of the Seventeenth Century'
‘It is clear that the seventeenth century—with a world-economy larger than it had been in the sixteenth—saw a new division of wealth, under the banner of a many-sided competition, unfettered by loyalty, ferocious and premeditated, since decline and stagnation were poor counsellors: nothing was yielded, everything taken that . . . read more
The Universal Contradiction
Messengers of revolution are always welcome. Ernest Mandel’s thesis in ‘Where Is America Going?’ (NLR 54) that a socialist revolution within the United States is on the agenda of the next decade or two is an important corrective to the more gloomy theses being advanced from other quarters. . . . read more
The Unknown Marx
When he assessed his intellectual career in 1859, Karl Marx condemned to deserved obscurity all of his previous works but four. The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) first set forth the decisive points of his scientific views, although in polemical form, he wrote; and he implied that the same . . . read more
Japan’s Economic Crisis
The 20th century’s most dynamic economy has fallen into prolonged paralysis. What are the causes of Japanese stagnation, and why have the country’s rulers reacted so phlegmatically to it? Taggart Murphy highlights the potentially explosive interdependency between Japanese recession and the American bull market.
Approaching Reality: Euro-Money and the Left
What has happened to the once relatively democratic and humane national governments of Western Europe that they now contemplate the harshness in present circumstances of monetary union? Why is France, a society as socially unjust as Britain and with an ever higher unemployment rate contemplating putting yet more . . . read more
The Last Utopia
John Gray originally came to prominence in the 1980s as one of the most formidable and articulate defenders of the anti-rationalist tradition of liberalism which had been revived by Hayek and his associates in the Mont Pélerin Society after 1945 and had subsequently become an important intellectual strand . . . read more
Contemporary Economic Stagnation in World Historical Perspective
There is little dispute now that the history of Western capitalism since the end of World War ii can be partitioned into two distinct periods. Its ‘Golden Age’, lasting roughly through the end of the 1960s, was characterized by rapid economic growth, low unemployment, mild business cycles . . . read more
An Anti-Hayekian Manifesto
Whither Socialism? poses as an attack on the possibility of market socialism. But that pose is superficial. The central object of Stiglitz’s attack is the conventional general equilibrium model of twentieth-century economic theory, fathered by the French economist Léon Walras in the late nineteenth century, and brought . . . read more
Amartya Sen’s Unequal World
This short work exhibits (often, perforce, only in fleeting cameo) the current state of Amartya Sen’s decades-long engagement with problems of equality and its absence. The book provides not only an exhilarating tour d’horizon of ideas developed at greater ease elsewhere, but also fresh nuances that are designed . . . read more
Inequality and Unemployment in Europe: The American Cure
What is the relationship between inequality and unemployment? This question is perhaps the most important issue in the political economy of Europe, and it has relevance for other regions with developing transnational ties, including the United States and the North American region. read more
The New Collectivism: Pension Reform, Grey Capitalism and Complex Socialism
With the advent of a Social Democrat-Green coalition in Germany, with socialists or social democrats in the governments of thirteen out of fifteen members of the eu and with Communists in the French and Italian Cabinets, the European Left faces an historic opportunity. The swing to the . . . read more
LETS: An Eco-Socialist Initiative?
Local Exchange Trading Systems (lets) have been welcomed by many as a possible solution to the poverty, disempowerment and social exclusion suffered by the unemployed, as a practical and inexpensive stimulus for local economic regeneration, as the basis for stable, sustainable, and self-reliant community economies, and as . . . read more
Capitalism at the Turn of the Century: Regulation Theory and the Challenge of Social Change
My book, A Theory of Capitalist Regulation, was written more than twenty years ago. The new edition perhaps testifies to the longevity of the ideas it sought to communicate. These two decades, however, have not been kind to anyone trying to make sense of the erratic and sometimes . . . read more
The Korean Crisis and the End of 'Late' Development
The Asian economic crisis has created a watershed in contemporary history, where questions long buried by the demise of Western communism and a militant Left in the democratic countries amid an appallingly self-congratulatory liberal triumphalism, now come sharply to the fore. A systematic failure of capitalism has struck . . . read more
The Asian Crisis: The High Debt Model Versus the Wall Street-Treasury-IMF Complex
How could the widely acknowledged real estate problems of Thailand’s banks in 1996 and 1997 have triggered such a far-reaching debt-and-development crisis? The devaluation of the Thai baht in July 1997 was followed by currency crises or financial instability in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, . . . read more
Assymetrical Trade in the Feudal System and in the Early Transition to Capitalism
Historical research has analyzed unequal exchange using two fundamental models: the ‘circulationist’ model, espoused by Wallerstein and Braudel, attributes development and under-development to the transfer of value from peripheral to central areas through unequivalent exchange. The endogenous model, by contrast, denies the influence of commerce in capitalist evolution. . . . read more
The Siege of German Social Market
The paradox of post-war European politics is that the most democratic economy in Europe, the German Social Market Economy, has underpinned the stability of continental currencies. The rights available to German workers and citizens both individually and collectively have been, and remain, amongst the most extensive of any . . . read more
Response to Giovanni Arrighi
The Long Twentieth Century is a volume of great historical sweep and originality. I don’t think my review could have been clearer in recognizing the many strengths of Giovanni Arrighi’s work. However, I did also find that much of the book’s core theoretical framework was in disarray. . . . read more
Financial Expansions in World Historical Perspective: A Reply to Robert Pollin
In his review of The Long Twentieth Century, Robert Pollin advances three surprising criticisms. All three criticisms concern what I have called ‘systemic cycles of accumulation’. These cycles consist of two phases: a phase of material expansion, in which profits come primarily from investments in the purchase, transformation, . . . read more
Globalization and the Myth of the Powerless State
The new globalist orthodoxy posits the steady disintegration of national economies and the demise of the state’s domestic power. This article, instead, seeks to show why the modern notion of the powerless state, with its accompanying reports about the demise of national diversity, is fundamentally misleading. It is . . . read more
On the Economic Theory of Socialism
The political revolutions of 1989–91 in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have created a new historical conjuncture in which the very future of the socialist project has been called into question. Socialists of all varieties have been affected by a profound loss of confidence . . . read more
The New Politics of Ownership
The political economy of the Left has always aimed at combining social justice and economic efficiency. The goals have not changed, but the best way to achieve them has increasingly come under scrutiny. For most of the twentieth century, the favoured means has been a single measure, the . . . read more
The Social Ownership of Capital
Over the last twenty years a number of governments have sought to reconcile the competing claims of capital and labour by encouraging employees to acquire ownership of capital in lieu of wage or salary increases. In the post-Keynesian world of stagflation, this has often been a trade-off between . . . read more
Japan, the World Bank, and the Art of Paradigm Maintenance: The East Asian Miracle in Political Perspective
To what extent is the World Bank an actor, an ‘autonomous variable’ in the international system? Or to what extent are its objectives and approaches the mere manifestations of competition and compromise among its member states? Several writers have argued that the Bank has a relatively large amount . . . read more
Eastern Europe, Western Power and Neo-Liberalism
John Lloyd’s article is helpful, above all, in revealing more fully his forms of thought. He appears to think my article was a piece of Marxist economics. Unfortunately it was entirely pre-theoretical: an attempt to introduce the claims of neo-liberals like Lloyd to some pertinent facts, with the . . . read more
Eastern Reformers and Neo-Marxist Reviewers
Peter Gowan has written an ambitious article. In it, he aims to show that the Group of Seven major industrial states (g7) and the international financial institutions (ifis) have, with a good deal of success, sought to impose at least an economic imperialism over the post-communist . . . read more
Financial Structures and Egalitarian Economic Policy
In various incarnations, egalitarianism has been a fundamental concern of economic policy for most of the twentieth century. The egalitarian impulse—and its corollary, opposition to the stark inequalities of free market capitalism—was embodied in both Soviet-style socialism and social-democratic Keynesianism as they developed, primarily in the first quarter-century . . . read more
Is It Global Economics or Neo-Laissez-Faire?
For Ralph Miliband, socialism was more than an intellectual and theoretical preoccupation. He was intensely concerned with socialism as a practical political project, and with the key element of that project, working-class power. I would be less than respectful of Miliband’s lifelong commitment if I did not acknowledge . . . read more
Neo-Liberal Theory and Practice for Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe’s market for policy ideas, suddenly opened in 1989, was swiftly captured by an Anglo-American product with a liberal brand name. This policy equivalent of fast food erected barriers to other new entrants and established a virtual monopoly on advice in most target states in the region. . . . read more
Political Ecology, Distributional Conflicts, and Economic Incommensurability
Environmentalism is sometimes seen as a product of prosperity, an approach usually known as the ‘post-materialist’ thesis. But this fails to do justice to the scope of environmentalist movements today; there is also the ‘environmentalism of the poor’ which grows out of distribution conflicts over the use of . . . read more
Social Democracy and Full Employment
‘The voters, now convinced that full employment, generous welfare services and social stability can quite well be preserved, will certainly not relinquish them. Any Government which tampered seriously with the basic structure 0f the full-employment Welfare State would meet with a sharp reverse at the polls’ (Antony Crosland,1956). . . . read more
China in the Russian Mirror
When people all over the world think about the collapse of the Soviet Union they draw a certain picture in their minds. According to this picture, modern societies developed along two different paths: the market economy and the command economy. Countries that took the path of the command . . . read more
A Reply to Maurice Glasman
I am pleased to have been given the chance to reply to Maurice Glasman’s article in nlr 205. Glasman raised certain fundamental issues about which debate is urgently necessary. However, his article also contained a number of factual errors which, if not cleared up, may hinder genuine . . . read more
The Great Deformation: Polanyi, Poland and the Terrors of Planned Spontaneity
Labour is only another name for a human activity that goes with life itself. . .To allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of their purchasing power, would result . . . read more
Western Europe’s Economic Stagnation
At the beginning of the 1990s, Western Europe is clearly facing more acute economic problems than are the other major countries of the oecd area. Both the United States and Japan seem to be hesitantly recovering in 1993 from their earlier, and relatively modest, slowdowns. Europe, on . . . read more
The Costs of Stability: The Advanced Capitalist Countries in the 1980s
It is widely recognized that economic policy in the advanced capitalist countries shifted profoundly in the 1980s. Employment levels were abandoned to market processes, government deficits would be eliminated to squeeze inflation and release resources for private initiative, profitability had to be restored to improve the climate for . . . read more
The Regulation Approach: Theory and History
In the past two decades the French (or Paris) School of Economic Regulation has developed an ambitious historical-economic theory which has already had a major impact on efforts to understand the current malaise of the capitalist system and the accompanying economic transformations. On the face of it, the . . . read more