This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, December 9. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


The global energy transition and the specter of AI have led to predictions of massive changes to the global social and economic system—fundamental transformations of production, employment, and governance.

In a 2016 paper, economist CARLOTTA PEREZ takes a neo-Schumpeterian approach to the question of stagnation and growth in the twenty-first century:

“Historically, the innovation potential of each major technological revolution has been shaped and steered by government, society and business in periods that are very similar to the present, when the recessions following major bubble collapses have led to widespread fears of joblessness and secular stagnation. Pessimism is a recurrent phenomenon based on the stalling of innovation, after major bubble collapses, in spite of the existence of plenty of technological possibilities. It results from the decoupling of the financial sector from the production economy during the boom and its reluctance to take risks investing in the real economy after the experience of the crash.” 

+  “Certain types of technical change—defined as changes in ‘techno-economic paradigm’—have such widespread consequences for all sectors of the economy that their diffusion is accompanied by a major structural crisis of adjustment to bring about a new ‘regime of regulation.'” A 1988 paper by Perez and Christopher Freeman on business cycles and investment behavior. Link. And a 2021 paper by Perez on innovation and growth. Link.

+  Leonard Reich’s 1985 book on the invention of industrial research in the United States, at General Electric and Bell. Link.

“Dynamic growth required radical innovation in five interconnected areas: new modes of transportation, new energy sources, new consumer goods, new general purpose production technologies, and, though he underemphasized this, new legal organization or governance structures for firms.” Herman Mark Schwartz on Schumpeterian waves and the “Nokia Risk.” Linkh/t to HMS for recommending the work of Perez.


Trade unions in Zambia

JUSTINA NAMUKOMBO is a lecturer in the Department of Government and Management Studies at the University of Zambia. A paper co-authored with Clever Madimutsa studies the changing composition of the Zambian working class. 

From the paper:  

“When the Movement for Multiparty Democracy formed a government, it decided to liberalise the economy by implementing structural adjustment policies spearheaded by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This entailed decontrol of prices of goods and services, decontrol of exchange rates, free trade and downsizing of the public sector, among others. Downsizing of the public sector was done through the implementation of two programmes, namely, privatisation and public service reform programmes. The implementation of these programmes resulted in job losses in the public sector which had guaranteed workers formal jobs. For instance, the number of workers in state-owned enterprises reduced from more than 100,000 in the 1980s to 58,581 in 2014. For central and local governments, their combined workforce reduced from 180,000 in 1993 to 104,000 in 2000. Because of these job losses, the informal sector became the major employer in the country. In 2014, only 0.6 million out of the total labour force of 6.3 million (i.e. 10 percent) were formally employed while the majority (i.e. 90 percent) were either informally employed or unemployed. Because of job losses resulting from the implementation of the privatisation and public service reform programmes, trade unions lost their membership. For instance, the membership of the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia reduced from 65,000 in 1995 to 17,000 in 2010.” 

+ + +

+   “While the AfCFTA is ambitious in many areas, it doesn’t necessarily align with domestic political ambition.” New on PW, Michael Odijie on free trade and industrial policy in Africa. Link

+   “What is the appropriate role for institutions with unrivaled power—and high levels of political independence—to shift the financial conditions that are critical for a response to climate change?” Monica DiLeo, Glenn Rudebusch, and Jens van ‘t Klooster on green central banking at the ECB and the Fed. Link

+   “Mass assassination factory.” Yuval Abraham’s +972 investigation on Israel’s aerial bombardment program assaulting Gaza. Link. And the Financial Times on Israeli bombs. Link.

+  “The silences of Bretton Woods on gender inequality and racial discrimination were particularly striking because its delegates were asked, less than two months before the conference began, to consider these issues by a high-profile body: the International Labour Organization.” By Eric Helleiner. Link.

+   Nathan Tankus on accounting gimmicks and the debt ceiling. Link.

+   “Most of the SLLDP farm beneficiaries are capitalists from non-agrarian sectors who increasingly see land reform as the new frontier for accumulation.” Farai Mtero, Nkanyiso Gumede, and Katlego Ramantsima on land redistribution in South Africa. Link

+   Employ America’s “playbook” for Fed policy in 2024. Link.

+   “This paper explores the impact of water quality on mortality by exploiting a natural experiment: the rise of tea consumption in eighteenth century England. This resulted in an unintentional increase in consumption of boiled water, thereby reducing mortality rates. The methodology uses two identification strategies tying areas with lower initial water quality to larger declines in mortality rates after tea drinking became widespread and following larger volumes of tea imports.” By Francisca Antman. Link

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

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