Dream of a Dream

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, March 25. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


British scholar Susan Strange (1923-98) is a founding figure of the discipline of International Political Economy (IPE). Beginning in the 1970s, she combined insights from the fields of economics and international relations to show how the integration of national financial markets and cross-border capital mobility was transforming the geopolitical order.  

Strange’s classic 1986 study, Casino Capitalism, argues that an unregulated international monetary system was undermining national sovereignty. 

From the book:

“Political leaders, and their opponents, like to pretend that they are still in control of their national economies, that their policies have the power to relieve unemployment, revive economic growth, restore prosperity and encourage investment in the future. But recent years have shown again and again how the politicians’ plans have been upset by changes that they could not have foreseen in the world outside the state. The dollar has weakened—or become too strong. Interest rates have made the burden of servicing a foreign debt too heavy to sustain. The banks have suddenly decided to lend the country no more money. Oil prices have suddenly risen—or fallen. Other commodity prices, on which export earnings may depend, fall, because the major economies of major consuming countries are going through a recession. The uncertainty that rules in the financial world spills over not only into individual lives but into the fortunes of governments and of countries—and sooner or later into the relations between states.”

+  “Perhaps the most fundamental change of all has been the internationalization of production.” Strange on global political economy from 1959 and 1984. Link

+  “This is one of the comparatively rare occasions on which the perceived outcome of an academic debate actually has some significance and impact outside the classroom and beyond the pages of professional journals.” 1988 article by Strange on the changing nature of American empire. Link

+  Nate Dyer on how Strange foresaw the 2008 financial crisis. Link. And Benjamin Cohen on the intellectual history of IPE. Link


Poverty reduction in Brazil

IGOR B. MARTINS is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge. A paper co-written with Andrés Palacio Chaverra explores the causes of poverty reduction in twenty-first century Brazil.

From the abstract

“Our contribution lies in the introduction of a structural change perspective to assess the evolution of poverty by considering the sectoral impact of growth and the social policies at the federal, state and municipal level. By structural change we mean the recomposition of output and employment over time. We run a first difference model to estimate the effects of mean income per capita by sector and of disaggregated public expenditures, without any attempts to infer causality. We confirm previous findings in the literature that the service sector rather than agriculture contributes the most to the sustained poverty reduction. Strikingly, the public administration is the leading sub-sector. We also find that state and municipal expenditures in human capital contribute more to poverty reduction than federal expenditures associated with conditional cash transfer programs; investment in infrastructure does not seem to contribute to poverty reduction. In short, we conclude that the payoffs of decentralized policies associated with human capital can be seen in the short run and therefore raise the bar for politicians to maintain and care for these policies.”

+ + +

+  “Carried by neoliberal ideology, competitive elections, and the polity-economy distinction, Western regimes could break promises, whereas Eastern ones could only buy time.” New on PW, Max Krahé reviews Fritz Bartel’s The Triumph of Broken PromisesLink.

+  “These new investment alliances between wealthy countries and Gulf fossil-fuel exporters are coinciding with a period of reckoning about the cost of climate change to countries that did little to contribute to it.” New on the Polycrisis, Tim Sahay and Kate Mackenzie on outsourcing the energy transition to the Gulf. Link.

+  Three on Silicon Valley Bank: Matt Klein on bailouts; James K. Galbraith on underlying systemic problems; and former CEO Ken Wilcox on SVB’s challenges in Asia. Linklink, and link

+  “The analysis finds that the Amazon Fund is an alternative to Northern controlled national REDD+ funds.” Claudia Horn on Brazil’s Amazon Fund. Link

+  Thomas J. Emery and Rok Sprukat on the long-term effects of sectarian politics in Lebanon. Link

+  “Using novel data on Black elected officials between 1962 and 1980, we assess the impact of the Voting Rights Act on the racial makeup of local governments in the Deep South.” By Andrea Bernini, Giovanni Facchini, and Cecilia Testa. Link

+  “Although the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the most powerful the young Mexican democracy has ever seen, it is far from dismantling neoliberalism.” By Ramón I. Centeno. Link

+  Hasan Cömert and T Sabri Öncü on the post-2018 Turkish currency crisis. Link

+  “Piano production formed clusters in the late 18th and early 19th century, notably in Soho, central London. Such clustering allowed access to a pool of skilled labor, and a London location gave easier access to materials but, most importantly, was originated due to the dominance of demand from the country’s capital. Once such a cluster formed, it was perpetuated by the clustering of makers of piano parts: key makers; pin makers; sellers of key leads; hammer coverers; piano hammer and damper cloth makers; incisors, who cut the fretted wooden fronts; truss carvers; gilders; marquetry workers; French polishers, veneer, timber, and ivory suppliers; makers of castors; and candle-sconces and piano-backs. All were essential suppliers to the main piano fabricators. Many also supplied elements that differentiated pianos, both in terms of prices and in terms of appearance, catering for different tastes in ornamentation.” By Francesca Carnevali and Lucy Newton. Link

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org

Subscribe to Phenomenal World Sources, a weekly digest of recommended readings across the social sciences. See the full Sources archive.