May 27, 2023Analysis
Monetary financing at the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve, and the European Central Bank
Monetary financing—the issuance of public money to support public expenditure—has in recent times become a policy taboo. The message from economists to politicians, policymakers, and society more broadly is often that any central bank support for public expenditure is likely to destroy…
May 25, 2023Interviews
An interview with Douglas Cifu on the SEC
The Gamestop bubble of 2021—where the value of the company’s stocks increased more than a hundred times over in just a few months—exemplified the rising trend of the meme stock frenzy. The event shed light on the role of retail…
May 13, 2023Analysis
Reforming the IMF
The global monetary hierarchy and steps towards change
In March 2023, the US Federal Reserve expanded its balance sheet by $300 billion. Following the run on Silicon Valley Bank, the Fed provided emergency lending through a brand-new bank lending facility that accepted US treasuries at face value (higher…
May 10, 2023Analysis
Minsky, First Republic Bank, and the paradox of contemporary monetary policy
The crisis affecting US and some European banks shows little sign of abatement. Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank earlier in the year, First Republic last week became the latest mid-size US bank to be bought up by a…
April 29, 2023Analysis
SEC regulations and the future of retail trading
Recent years have seen the rise of the meme stock frenzy—a wave of stock purchases driven by social media trends. This tendency culminated with the Gamestop bubble of 2021, in which the value of the company’s stocks increased more than…
April 15, 2023Analysis
Inside the Black Box
Examining the microstructures of the financial system
We live in a period of unparalleled financial complexity, and, as the history of recent decades has demonstrated, unparalleled financial risk. The recurring crises which plague the global economy have brought theorists of systemic instability to the fore. Key among…
April 1, 2023Analysis
Banks as Hedge Funds?
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank
Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) short lifespan—from October 17, 1983 to March 10, 2023—has been witness to crucial transformations in the world of modern banking. The bank’s collapse has sparked wide ranging reflections on the roots of the crisis, the utility…
March 30, 2023Analysis
The Imperial Fed
Colonial currencies and the pan-American origins of the dollar system
The Federal Reserve is commonly depicted as an institution set up to fulfill domestic functions, only later taking on its significant international and geopolitical dimensions. This view sees the Fed’s origins in various domestic concerns, such as bankers’ desire to…
March 23, 2023Analysis
Stranded Countries and Stranded Assets
Outsourcing the energy transition to the Gulf
This is the eleventh edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. The US routinely flouts its international climate financing commitments, rarely delivering on its promises. Last year, for example,…
March 16, 2023Analysis
The wartime communist market experience in China
In terms of its size, dynamism, and degree of global integration, China’s market economy is extraordinary. Though it’s known officially as a “socialist market with Chinese characteristics,” its market features far predate the 1978 decision on “reform and opening.” The…
March 3, 2023Analysis
Wall Street Consensus a la Française
Development agendas at the Gabon One Forest Summit
Since his election in 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron has periodically committed to resetting France’s relationship with Africa. In 2020, his so-called Macron Doctrine denounced the Washington Consensus for creating a “capitalism that has become financialized, that has become over-concentrated…
March 1, 2023Analysis
The IMF Trap
Debt, austerity, and inequality in Sri Lanka’s historic crisis
Massive demonstrations that swept Sri Lanka last year exposed the serious challenges at the heart of the global economy. In July 2022, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was forced to flee the country, only a few months after announcing a hasty…
February 25, 2023Reviews
Money as Empire?
On Perry Mehrling’s “Money and Empire: Charles P. Kindleberger and the Dollar System”
Money makes the world go round, or as Karl Marx put it, Geldgespräche, Quatsch-Spaziergänge. How does this work at the global or international level? Perry Mehrling’s elegantly written biography of the MIT economist Charles Poor Kindleberger illuminates the relationship between…
February 22, 2023Analysis
European Central Bank policy in 2008 and 2020
At the dawn of the newly implemented Eurozone, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi and Daniel Gros argued that three broad issues might present problems for Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Bini Smaghi, then Director for International Affairs at the Italian Treasury,…
February 15, 2023Analysis
Securitizing the Transition
The logic of privatization in climate finance
In the eyes of the IMF, a G20 panel, and, lately, the US Treasury Secretary, the time has come for multilateral development banks to adapt their development mandates to the logic of derisking. This tactic—lauded as a solution for “mobilizing”…
February 1, 2023Analysis
State-building, accumulation, and debt in post-revolutionary Georgia
The financial crises of the 1990s in Asia, Argentina, and Russia sparked growing interest in the phenomenon of dollarization—the use of a foreign currency to perform national currency function. Dollarization, however, has a history dating back to the nineteenth history.…
January 21, 2023Analysis
The reputational limits of central banks
After a decade of low or negative interest rates, central banks are back in the business of fighting inflation. One of the clearest signs of the change in monetary policy stance is the largely synchronized tightening across high-income countries—last year,…
January 14, 2023Analysis
The Dollar and Climate
How US dollar hegemony fuels the climate crisis
The climate crisis offers a new angle from which to evaluate US dollar hegemony, since carbon emissions are tied to economic activity.
December 20, 2022Analysis
Indian Big Business
The evolution of India’s corporate sector from 2000 to 2020
“The systemic, long-term nexus between the political elites and big business will not go away anytime soon,” wrote journalist M. K. Venu in 2015. Writing in the aftermath of Obama’s second visit to India, Venu suggested that “crony capitalism” had…
December 8, 2022Analysis
Money and the Climate Crisis
COP27 and financing the green transition
The conclusion of COP27 reflected persisting uncertainties around coordinated global action towards decarbonization. Major agreements—including the establishment of a loss and damage fund—were reached, but the burden of mounting debt among global South countries continued to limit climate ambition. The…
December 2, 2022Analysis
Development Bank Self-Sabotage
What’s stopping MDBs?
This is the fourth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. When the World Bank and IMF make radical noises, the US is typically the voice of restraint. So…
November 19, 2022Analysis
The Wall Street Consensus at COP27
The derisking roll-out at COP27
At COP26, US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry sanguinely declared the need to “de-risk the investment, and create the capacity to have bankable deals. That’s doable for water, it’s doable for electricity, it’s doable for transportation.” UN Special Envoy…
November 18, 2022Analysis
Collective Action and Climate Finance
Can the COP move markets?
This is the third edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. At UN climate summits, the items that appear on the agenda are usually those that advocates have fought…
November 16, 2022Reviews
On Jeremy Green’s The Political Economy of the Special Relationship
Bretton Woods is often associated with les Trente Glorieuses, the triumph of a certain kind of social democratic governance system, and American hegemony in Western Europe. The postwar system of monetary governance represented a form of “regulated” international capitalism subordinate…
October 19, 2022Interviews
Ventures & Networks
An interview with Sebastian Mallaby on venture capital
The past year of rampant inflation and energy system chaos is a clear indication that we need paradigmatic change. Any new economic system is going to be anchored by major scientific innovations; historically, spurring these technological transformations has required a…
October 12, 2022Interviews
Who Pays for Inflation?
A conversation on monetary policy, labor, and the definition of inflation
The inflation of the past year has reshaped the political economic landscape in the United States and around the globe. While the IMF and World Bank echo UN calls about the recession risk of globally-synchronized rate hikes, the debate over…
September 20, 2022Analysis
The Finance Gap
Poverty finance from colonial Kenya to microcredit markets
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ foreword to the UN’s Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development’s 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development report, speaks to a prevalent piece of common sense in global development: Financing for sustainable development is at a crossroads.…
August 24, 2022Analysis
A Permanent Bailout?
Central bank interventions in noncrisis times
The 2008 crisis heralded a new age in central banking. The scale and nature of central bankers’ interventions was unprecedented. Traditionally, as lenders of last resort, central banks lend at escalating rates against good collateral to solvent institutions in times…
August 13, 2022Analysis
Sovereign ratings in a financialized world
As dark clouds gather on the horizon of the global economy in the third year of the pandemic—with debt stocks swollen, interest costs rising, and growth undermined by energy insecurity and war—policy makers and pundits are anxiously watching sovereign credit…
July 28, 2022Reviews
The Last Days of Sound Finance
On Karen Petrou’s “Engine of Inequality”
When the Federal Reserve turned to unconventional monetary policy in 2008, many feared that we would soon see a return to the wage-price spiral of the 1970s. The combination of deficit spending and monetary ease raised the old specter of…
July 23, 2022Sources
This month China narrowly missed its growth targets, sparking speculation over the economic impacts of its zero-Covid policy. The contraction was heavily shaped by local governments, who, struggling to get loans from institutional bond investors, have begun to offer high…
July 7, 2022Interviews
The IMF & the Legacy of Bretton Woods
Global South debt crises and the evolution of the international monetary system
Fifty years on from the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the role of the international monetary system and international financial institutions in managing the global economy are in question.
June 25, 2022Sources
Amidst food shortages, an energy crisis, and a "complete collapse" of the economy, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa faces mass protests calling for his resignation. At the same time, the government is in negotiations with the IMF around a bailout deal.
June 18, 2022Sources
In March of this year, the London Metal Exchange suspended trading in nickel after a 250 percent price hike brought its value to $100,000 a ton. The cancellation has shaken the commodities exchange's reputation, and inspired a series of fierce…
June 4, 2022Sources
In recent decades, the global financial system has undergone a series of profound crises. While the impact of these crises has been felt globally, comprehensive reforms have been less immediate.
May 28, 2022Analysis
International finance and the transformation of Brazil’s agricultural lands
The election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 commenced a long agenda of environmental destruction in Brazil. Before taking office, Bolsonaro had openly threatened Indigenous communities with racist attacks, commenting that Indigenous peoples should not have “an inch of land” and…
May 12, 2022Analysis
America’s kleptocratic public school divide
As the arrival of the pandemic forced schools shut, the Public Schools of Robeson County in North Carolina scrambled to save the rural district’s closed and crumbling buildings. At the same time, they faced the major task of providing education…
April 27, 2022Analysis
The evolution and weaponization of the world dollar
The centerpiece of shock and awe of the West’s economic response to Russia’s invasion and bombardment of Ukraine was the freezing of Russia’s central bank assets. In the March 7 edition of his Global Money Dispatch newsletter, the Credit Suisse…
April 15, 2022Analysis
Economic War and the Commodity Shock
A discussion on sanctions and global commodity markets
The war in Ukraine has unleashed both geopolitical and economic strife, and nowhere is the latter clearer than in the volatile commodities market. Commodities prices have fluctuated wildly since the Russian invasion began and the US-led coalition retaliated with extraordinary…
April 13, 2022Analysis
Austerity and Renewables
A new IMF-approved tax regime is crippling Pakistan’s green energy sector
After weeks of rising domestic pressure, a spiraling economic crisis, and the swift loss of crucial military support, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office last weekend following a vote of no confidence. The political turmoil is the…
April 9, 2022Sources
Last week, the independent Amazon Labor Union won a NLRB election at a Staten Island warehouse, with around 55 percent of workers voting to join the union. Heralded as a watershed for new organizing opportunities for low-wage, service sector, and…
March 26, 2022Sources
Brazil's nearly 70-year-old national oil company, Petrobrás, faces criticism from across the political spectrum for its simultaneous price hikes and record breaking annual profits.
March 12, 2022Sources
Among the cities experiencing pronounced ripple effects from the Russian sanctions is London, whose financial institutions and luxury property market have long attracted Russian investment.
March 9, 2022Analysis
On the speed and scope of the Russia sanctions, and the prospects for off-ramps
For the global hegemon, pulling the trigger on crisis management seems to consist primarily of posting PDFs to government websites. During the March 2020 financial panic, as the coronavirus first spread throughout the Global North, the Federal Reserve feverishly published…
March 5, 2022Sources
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a quarter of the world's wheat supply, leading to concern about the invasion's impact on global wheat markets and food security. Global dependence on wheat is a relatively new phenomenon, emerging in the postwar…
February 26, 2022Sources
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has provoked numerous commentaries on potential geopolitical, growth-related, and inflationary ramifications.
February 15, 2022Sources
The pandemic induced wave of government spending has prompted renewed debates on the magnitude and likelihood of significant fiscal multipliers—the effect of fiscal spending on output—in the coming years.
February 3, 2022Analysis
Acute Dollar Dominance
The dollar system, original sin, and sovereign debt since the pandemic.
In early 2020, the “dash for cash” in the US Treasury market prompted the Fed to relaunch its dollar swap lines, which it eventually did in mid-March of that year. In the aftermath of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC),…
December 11, 2021Sources
In the 1970s, the study of Latin America was an intellectual crossroads for scholars of political economy, with discussion around theories of dependency, growth, and development being evaluated against the contemporaneous experience of Latin America states. But the lost decade…
November 18, 2021Analysis
The Wall Street Consensus at COP26
Finance Day at COP26 shows a ruthless dedication to voluntary decarbonization
Wednesday, November 3, was private finance day at COP26. For those who follow central banks closely, the event was a chance to gauge whether their recent turn to climate-conscious policy making would translate into ambitious decarbonization announcements. After all, private…
November 13, 2021Sources
In recent decades, policy arenas which are resistant to national and international regulation have seen the flourishing of voluntary, self-regulatory, and private accountability mechanisms. Researchers have grouped these broadly as a system of Non-State-Market-Driven-Governance (NSMDG), characterized by the institutional role of markets and…
November 6, 2021Analysis
Tracing the rise and the politics of asset manager capitalism
In mid October 2021, when BlackRock revealed its third quarter results, the asset management behemoth announced it was just shy of $10 trillion in assets under management. It’s a vast sum, “roughly equivalent to the entire global hedge fund, private…
November 4, 2021Analysis
Intellectual property, industrial organization, and economic growth
$5.3 trillion of US federal government stimulus and relief spending have returned the economy to its pre-Covid growth trajectory. But that growth trajectory was hardly robust—either before or after the 2008 financial crisis. Nor was the slow decay of GDP…
October 30, 2021Analysis
Climate diplomacy and the global financial architecture
This year’s Conference of the Parties (COP), opening October 31, is hosted by the United Kingdom, whose agenda-setting privilege as host has made private finance a central focus of the 2021 meeting. The UK ambition to center the City of…
October 23, 2021Sources
Since the mid-19th century, municipal debt has been responsible for funding some of the most significant investments in US infrastructure, schools, and social services. But rising risks of climate-related flooding threaten the value of municipal bonds, often in cities which…
October 9, 2021Sources
As the Fed moves towards tightening its post-pandemic monetary policy, developing countries around the world face growing risks of capital flight. The deep political constraints posed by this risk are not new, but their implications for contemporary policymaking are persistent.
September 25, 2021Sources
The possible collapse of Evergrande, China's second largest property developer, has reverberated through global financial markets. With over $300 billion in outstanding debt, 3.8 million jobs on the line, and investments across consumer industries, the scale of the impact could…
September 11, 2021Sources
Long held to be essential for development, capital flows have come under increasing scrutiny for their impact on the financial stability and autonomy of low and middle income countries.
August 24, 2021Analysis
A history of central bank independence.
We live in the age of the central bank. The financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 crash of 2020 have made visible the central role of the US Federal Reserve and its overseas counterparts in the international financial system.
July 17, 2021Sources
Earlier this week, the EU published a series of proposals aimed at reducing its carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030. The legislation has revived debates on the economic models best suited to facilitating investment and decarbonization.
June 24, 2021Analysis
Inflation, wages, and the fifty-year crisis
In one of her first statements as Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen said that the United States faced “an economic crisis that has been building for fifty years.” The formulation is intriguing but enigmatic. The last half-century is piled so high…
May 13, 2021Analysis
Investment and Decarbonization: Rating Green Finance
A proposal for a public ratings agency for green finance
The Biden administration has committed the United States to cutting its carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
May 8, 2021Sources
In the late 2000s, the term "land grab" rose to prominence to describe large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
May 1, 2021Sources
Millions of workers in global supply chains have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
April 28, 2021Analysis
Popular politics and reconstructing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
Like the world system as a whole, segregated cities in the United States have their own finance driven core-periphery dynamics.
April 6, 2021Analysis
Risks and Crises
On market makers and risk managers post-2008.
For a long time, Bagehot’s rule, “lend freely, against good collateral, but at a high rate,” restored the Fed’s control over the money market and helped end banking panics and systemic banking crises. This control evaporated on September 15, 2008,…
February 27, 2021Sources
Since November 2020, thousands of Indian farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and other states have protested the implementation of national market-based agricultural reforms. A look to a series of liberalization measures in the 1990s, which did not specifically address agriculture, reveals…
February 13, 2021Sources
The proposed Covid-19 stimulus package in the US has reignited debate around inflation. Much contemporary concern and discussion on the topic still bears the mark of the 1970s, the Volcker disinflation, and the past consensus around the relationship between unemployment…
December 19, 2020Sources
In the wake of recent financial convulsions, central banks have emerged yet again as the first responders to crisis. But to confront the crisis of anthropogenic climate change, there is growing acknowledgement that central banks should go further, beyond their…
October 10, 2020Sources
With millions facing housing insecurity, the economic downturn has sparked concerns of a new housing crisis. Where the subprime mortgage crisis thrust the centrality of unsustainable housing financing practices in the global economy into view, the Covid-19 recession has brought…
September 12, 2020Sources
Land acquisitions have been on the rise since 2008, when rising oil prices and an international food crisis dramatically increased demand. Changing ownership patterns have the potential to influence not only the terms of agricultural supply chains, but the structure…
August 15, 2020Analysis
Another Lost Decade?
The systemic character of the global periphery debt crisis.
Contrary to common beliefs on fiscal fundamentals, the current debt crisis in the global periphery demonstrates that the solvency of sovereign states is determined by their monetary power. Crucially, liquidity has a cyclical character in the periphery of global capitalism…
August 13, 2020Reviews
Geoeconomics and the Balance of Payments: A Reading List
Suggested readings on the savings glut, critical macrofinance, and the balance of payments.
Below is a rough reading list assembled by the panelists in the August 13, 2020 discussion on “Geoeconomics and the Balance of Payments.”
August 3, 2020Sources
Much research has documented the vast sums of "missing wealth" stored in tax havens, and detailed its implications for inequality, fiscal policy, and economic growth. Less present in the discussion is the institutional and political history of these offshore financial…
July 20, 2020Sources
Common wisdom around central bank independence (CBI) is increasingly a matter of debate. Before the Covid-19 crisis, a growing number of scholars and commentators have proposed means by which central banks can address looming climate catastrophe—either by integrating new risks…
July 16, 2020Analysis
The Dollar and Empire
How the US dollar shapes geopolitical power
What does the US dollar’s continued dominance in the global monetary and financial systems mean for geo-economic and geo-political power?
July 1, 2020Reviews
On the conceptual and methodological stakes of Trade Wars Are Class Wars by Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis Good writing on international macroeconomics reads like a detective novel. There’s a suspicious event—hundreds of millions of dollars in phantom FX…
June 13, 2020Interviews
Trade Wars Are Class Wars
A discussion between Adam Tooze, Michael Pettis, and Matthew Klein
Michael Pettis and Matthew Klein's new book "Trade Wars Are Class Wars" begins with an epigraph from John A. Hobson: "The struggle for markets, the greater eagerness of producers to sell than of consumers to buy, is the crowning proof…
May 1, 2020Analysis
The Class Politics of the Dollar System
Managing an international public good
The global dollar system has few national winners. The typical frame for understanding the US dollar is that of “exorbitant privilege.”
September 3, 2019Sources
Last week, we considered how social and political standards can pressure climate scientists to under-report their findings, introducing an underestimation bias into published climate research. In a recent thread, Nicholas Loubere examines the development buzz around mobile money, showing how…
June 10, 2019Sources
Debates over the political impacts of Central Bank Independence (CBI) reached their peak in the late 90s and early 2000s, due to rising inequality and the volatility of financial markets. Initiated with the 1977 Federal Reserve Act and Paul Volcker’s…