An excerpt from How China Escaped Shock Therapy
European and American traditions of economic theorizing on price control are intimately connected with war—practices and debates over price control peaked amid the two world wars. The experience of the First World War had been one of inflation and limited…
July 28, 2022Reviews
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, 2022Interviews
Revisiting “resource nationalism” in a new era of raw minerals demand
Across Latin America, a recent wave of left electoral victories has drawn comparisons to “Pink Tide” of the early 2000s. The current moment, however, coincides with a global push towards decarbonization, and much of the world’s supply of commodities essential…
July 20, 2022Interviews
An interview with Beth Popp Berman
For some, neoliberalism is to blame for most, if not all, of our societal problems, as well as for the resistance to progressive changes that characterizes contemporary policymaking. This is for good reason. As has been extensively documented, the neoliberal…
July 16, 2022Analysis
NAFTA, electric vehicles, and the evolution of Mexico's auto industry
In December 2021, President Joe Biden announced a proposed consumer tax incentive for electric vehicles (EV) made in the US by unionized autoworkers. The tax incentive aims at tackling climate change while also strengthening unionized jobs. It promises to support…
July 9, 2022Analysis
The BJP's new labor reforms, the construction industry, and the mounting challenges for India’s trade unions
Since coming to power in 2014, India’s right-wing government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced sweeping reforms aimed at strengthening the union government at the expense of the states, and catering to large corporations over smaller establishments and…
July 7, 2022Interviews
Global South debt crises and the evolution of the international monetary system
June 29, 2022Analysis
Mining-based development and the EU's critical raw materials strategy
Though it failed to resolve a number of contentious issues, the COP26 meeting in Glasgow solidified a consensus around the need for a global transition towards clean energy. Implicated in this transition is the widescale adoption of renewables—we must build…
June 16, 2022Reviews
A review of Eric Helleiner’s The Neomercantilists
Since Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential election, defenders of the postwar liberal international order have panicked over the return of their bête noire: neomercantilism. For them, neomercantilism signals a revival of nationalistic protectionism, a surge in…
June 10, 2022Analysis
Digital platforms, infrastructure, and labor in Brazil and China
In Spring 2018, two significant labor disputes broke out at opposite ends of the earth. The first, in Brazil, was a two-week-long mass strike of 400,000 truckers in response to successive price increases unleashed by the state oil company, Petrobras,…
June 2, 2022Reviews
On Stephen Marglin’s Raising Keynes
In 2022, the audience for books about John Maynard Keynes is probably as large as it has ever been. With two global economic crises followed by widespread use of government interventions, debates recently relegated to history books and academic journals…
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…
The history of control and decontrol in the oil market
In October 2021 the price of gasoline in the United States rose to its highest level in seven years. There were many reasons for this: surging demand following a year-and-a-half of lockdown, a slower than expected recovery of oil production,…
Inflation and the governance of prices
In 1959, the leaders of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC, now the OECD) appointed a Group of Independent Experts “to study the experience of rising prices” in the recent history of the advanced capitalist countries. Between the end…
May 14, 2022Analysis
The Auxilio Brasil in perspective
In recent months Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro appears to have shape-shifted. From a staunch ally of business interests, he now presents himself as a president of the poor. The basis of this transformation is his new conditional cash-transfer programme Auxilio…
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…
May 7, 2022Interviews
An interview with Helen Thompson on the geopolitics of shale and energy independence
Restarting our economies after the pandemic continues to expose the fragility of our supply chains. The Russia-Ukraine conflict serves as a stark reminder that oil and gas can still dictate our anxieties. Commodity prices and our collective sense of vulnerability…
May 4, 2022Analysis
Hilferding, Sohn-Rethel, and Hamilton
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has flung the international order into crisis. Understanding the causes of such cataclysms requires understanding not only the interests of states, but also the shape of society—its internal tensions, as well as its material and cultural…
April 30, 2022Analysis
Markets, planning, and coordinating the green transformation
In recent years, an intense debate has unfolded over the policy and politics of the green transition. Politically, the tide appears to be receding: As the Biden agenda has lost momentum and rising inflation moves center stage, the near-term prospects…
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
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
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 2, 2022Interviews
An interview with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò on climate crisis, reparations, and the use of history
Every new climate study seems to confirm what we have long known: the brunt of these impacts will fall on those least prepared to weather them, in considerable part because the basic structure of our global system had long ago…
March 24, 2022Interviews
An interview with Robin Einhorn
Tax cuts and austerity have been a central feature of American politics in recent decades—just recently, the Build Back Better bill was blocked under the guise of fiscal responsibility. The work of Robin Einhorn, Preston Hotchkis Professor in the History…
March 12, 2022Interviews
An interview with historian William Sewell
Few scholars have had the theoretical, methodological, and empirical influence of William Sewell. His work has persistently scrutinized and challenged disciplinary barriers, placing historical and social scientific methods in dialogue and thereby illuminating their strengths and shortcomings. This effort is…
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 1, 2022Interviews
An interview with Michael Mann on the study of history and the reemergence of great power politics
Over the course of several decades, Michael Mann's writing has consistently advanced thinking on great powers and the social orders they create. Combining a theoretical and empirical focus, his work is nearly unparalleled in its ambitious scope and meticulous attention…
February 14, 2022Analysis
The history of South Africa’s state utility and the future of the energy transition
South Africa has one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world. It is also in a staggering and protracted unemployment crisis—the real unemployment rate, including discouraged work-seekers, is near 50 percent. But there remain tens of thousands of workers…
January 12, 2022Analysis
The history and politics of price controls and economic management in the United States
In the decades after the Civil War, Andrew Carnegie captured the American steel industry by pushing down prices. So effective was the Scottish-born telegraph operator at reducing costs, breaking cartels, and driving competition into bankruptcy during the downturns of the…
December 23, 2021Interviews
An interview with Kim Voss on the American labor movement, from the Knights of Labor to “Striketober.”
The uptick in organized and unorganized labor militancy registered throughout the pandemic, and in particular in strike and unionization campaigns in recent months, comes at a relative nadir for the US labor movement. The work of Kim Voss, Professor of…
December 18, 2021Analysis
Rising student debt burdens in the past decade have contributed to a decline in homeownership for young adults.
The benefits of owning a home in the United States cannot be overstated. The housing market in the United States both reflects and causes widening cleavages in American society; owning a home is a functional prerequisite for financial security. The…
November 12, 2021Analysis
The Evergrande crisis, “common prosperity,” and the transformation of the Chinese growth model
The ongoing crisis for Chinese property developer Evergrande has made the giant company the focal point of global concern. Creditors, investors, contractors, customers, and employees of Evergrande within and outside China have watched anxiously to see whether the Chinese government would…
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…
November 2, 2021Analysis
The history of the global infrastructure gap
On June 11, leaders at the G7 summit signed the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, an agreement which commits signatories to meet the infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries. The deal is an explicit response to China’s Belt…
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…
September 18, 2021Analysis
The forgotten ancestors of East Asian developmentalism
2021 marked the centenary of the creation of the Chinese Communist Party, born of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. History textbooks tend to claim that the Movement emerged out of a widespread realization that China’s rights as a victorious…
The deceptive financial aid system at America's colleges.
No matter how talented, hard working, and committed a student is, if financing falls through, the dream of obtaining higher education can be dashed. But much of the financial data that prospective students receive is misleading. In the cost information…
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.
August 11, 2021Analysis
Employer claims of unavailable labor are rooted in an unwillingness to raise wages and the long-term decline of the nation’s system of training and allocating labor
As the American economy reopened in the first half of 2021, reports of a “labor shortage” spread throughout US industries. But there was one sector where employer panic about hiring was old news: the massive and decentralized US construction industry.
July 12, 2021Interviews
An interview with Benjamin Holtzman
As New Yorkers grapple with an uncertain future, the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and its aftermath are often invoked by the press and politicians. Today, “New York in the 1970s” is shorthand for a city facing poverty and crime,…
July 2, 2021Analysis
Cheap money will boost inequality and geopolitical tension but not inflation
Though the lockdown in 2020 threw many workers out of work, the big fiscal stimulus, fueled by government debt and an unprecedentedly large monetary expansion, offered stimulus checks and elevated unemployment benefits to millions of Americans.
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…
June 18, 2021Interviews
A conversation on investment strategies for the green transition
In late March, the Biden administration announced the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, with approximately half of the sum dedicated to fighting the climate crisis. While the legislation would mark a sea change in federal action to avert climate catastrophe,…
How the Great Recession fueled the student debt crisis.
The geographic character of the Great Recession of 2008–2009 is, by this point, well-known. While everywhere in the United States experienced a sharp increase in unemployment, some areas suffered disproportionate exposure to subprime mortgages and the consequent bursting of the…
June 8, 2021Analysis
Trade, bond markets, Suez, and the Ever Given.
Why did the Ever Given capture our collective imaginations? At the end of its week in the spotlight, the poet Kamran Javadizadeh wrote: “I too am ‘partially refloated,’ I too remain stuck in the Suez Canal.” Two fluorescent yellow-vested construction…
May 13, 2021Analysis
A proposal for a public ratings agency for green finance
May 6, 2021Interviews
An interview with Ken Shadlen
April 28, 2021Analysis
Popular politics and reconstructing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
April 6, 2021Analysis
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,…
March 19, 2021Interviews
A conversation between Lena Lavinas, André Singer, and Barbara Weinstein on three decades of party politics and social policy in Brazil.
In The Takeover of Social Policy by Financialization, Lena Lavinas names the “Brazilian Paradox”: the model of social inclusion implemented by the Workers’ Party under President Lula and President Rousseff promotes a logic of financial inclusion and market incorporation, and…
Third wayism and the problem of representation.
The problem of democratic representation has always turned on the question of the “have-nots”—that is, not only those without wealth and property, but also those marginalized on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, origin, religion and education. Even in a…
In the 1980s, the left abandoned its language of transformation. Can it be regained?
Some time in 1991 I was invited to give a talk to the Andalusian Confederation of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE). Afterwards, the secretary of the confederation walked me back to my hotel. I asked him why there was…
The rise and fall of the French Road to socialism.
The history of French socialism is filled with famous and heroic dates: 1789; 1848; 1871 1936; 1968. But less well remembered is another date of great significance: 1981. It was in May of that year that the French left achieved…
An interview with feminist activist and trade unionist Begoña San José.
An interview with former Prime Minister of Spain Felipe González.
An interview with Hector Maravall on the Communist Party of Spain, the decline of unions, and Felipe González's modernization program.
Four voices on Spain's transition from the Franco dictatorship to parliamentary monarchy — and what didn't change.
It’s been some time since the term “transition” was fully incorporated into day-to-day usage in contemporary Spanish. It refers to the process of political change that began during the second half of the 1970s, a process which transformed Spain from…
An interview with Roger Martelli on the decline of the French Communist Party.
An interview with François Morin.
An interview with Anicet le Pors on the PCF, the Common Program, and the constraints on left governance.
From stagflation to the transformation of Italian left parties.
In 1977, Eric Hobsbawm published a book of interviews with Giorgio Napolitano, a leading figure in the Italian Communist Party (PCI)’s gradualist wing, the miglioristi. Hobsbawm proclaimed himself a “spiritual member” of the PCI and intended this book to depict…
An interview with Giuliano Amato
An interview with Emanuele Macaluso, Italian trade unionist and politician with the Italian Communist Party (PCI)
An interview with Claudio Petruccioli
January 22, 2021Analysis
The many causes and effects of inflation.
Concerns over a generalized “inflation” loom in the recovery. Yet the prices that most heavily factor into the cost of living for US workers—housing, health, and education—have already been rising for decades. The question we should be asking is whether…
January 16, 2021Analysis
The Control Data Corporation and global value chains.
In March 1976, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD), William “Bill” Clements invited William “Bill” C. Norris, CEO and Chairman of the supercomputer producer Control Data Corporation (CDC) to a closed-door meeting at the Pentagon.
January 9, 2021Analysis
Hyman Minsky and the politics of inflation.
An effective way to write the history of the last thirty years of the twentieth century,” economist Albert Hirschman wrote in 1985, “may well be to focus on the distinctive reactions of various countries to the identical issue of worldwide…
December 3, 2020Reviews
On Jairus Banaji’s A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism
Capitalism is either eternal or it isn’t. There are people who defend the first view, or something close to it—the multivolume 2014 Cambridge History of Capitalism opens in Babylonia, circa 1000 BCE—but it is much more plausible that capitalism, like…
November 25, 2020Interviews
An interview with Amit Bhaduri.
Amit Bhaduri was internationally selected professor at Pavia University and visiting Professor at the Council for Social Development, Delhi University. His six books and more than sixty journal articles have consistently scrutinized the foundations of neoclassical economic theory and presented…
Borrowers are increasingly unable to pay down their student loans, leading to mounting balances and an intensifying debt crisis.
Think of the student debt crisis as an overflowing bathtub. On the one hand, too much water is pouring in: more borrowers are taking on more debt. That is thanks to increased demand for higher education in the face of…
October 16, 2020Analysis
On the problems of propertarian and dignitarian approaches to data governance.
Since the proliferation of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, critics of widely used internet communications services have warned of the misuse of personal data. Alongside familiar concerns regarding user privacy and state surveillance, a now-decades-long thread connects a…
October 10, 2020Interviews
An interview with Mark Blyth.
Mark Blyth is William R. Rhodes Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University and a Faculty Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies. His research examines how the interests of states and economic actors shape ideological consensus and…
October 1, 2020Analysis
n Populist programs and democratic central banking.
Since Lehman collapsed in 2008, central banks have broken free of historical norms, channelling trillions into the banking system to prop up global finance and the savings of depositors from Germany to Hong Kong. The corona crash has only accelerated…
September 25, 2020Analysis
How should we measure racial discrimination?
A 2018 National Academy of Sciences report on American policing begins its section on racial bias by noting the abundance of scholarship that records disparities in the criminal justice system. But shortly thereafter, the authors make a strange clarification: “In…
JFI’s interactive map presents the geography of student debt.
Since the Great Recession, outstanding student loan debt in the United States has increased by 122% in 2019 dollars, reaching the staggering sum of $1.66 trillion in June of this year. Student loan debt has grown faster than other debt…
September 5, 2020Analysis
Gardiner Means, administered prices, and why the Texas Railroad Commission should regulate oil production again.
Even at the depth of the Great Depression, oil producers were always paid a positive price for their product. But on April 20 of this year the price of West Texas Intermediate oil traded for negative prices, reaching a record…
August 26, 2020Interviews
An interview with Richard Westra.
Richard Westra is University Professor at the Institute of Political Science, University of Opole, Poland and international Adjunct Professor of the Center for Macau Studies, University of Macau. His research focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of economic phenomena, with an…
August 15, 2020Analysis
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 8, 2020Interviews
An interview with Stephen Marglin.
July 27, 2020Analysis
The case for sovereign investment in telecommunications infrastructure
July 22, 2020Analysis
Property rights and extraction in the mineral frontier
July 16, 2020Analysis
How the US dollar shapes geopolitical power
July 10, 2020Analysis
On crisis, partisanship, and public policy
Will the current crisis transform America’s politics and economic institutions? With unemployment higher than at any point since the Great Depression, rising food insecurity, and an increasingly muscular role for government—are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the…
July 3, 2020Analysis
What the pandemic teaches us about poverty measurements
Mapping concentration and prices in the US higher education industry During and after the Great Recession, public funding for higher education was slashed as part of state budget austerity. Staff and programs were cut and tuition rose; in many states,…
June 13, 2020Interviews
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 28, 2020Analysis
On automation and worker surveillance
Before Covid-19 hit, we'd become used to reports about Amazon's robotics innovations and the impending large-scale automation of warehouse jobs. But recent strikes and protests by Amazon's very human workers have exposed how far we are from robotic warehouses.
May 14, 2020Interviews
An interview with Gøsta Esping-Andersen
"The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism" is among the most influential works in the study of welfare states. Rather than conceiving of welfare and industrial policy on a single state-market axis, Three Worlds develops a typology to situate welfare states…
May 1, 2020Analysis
Managing an international public good
April 24, 2020Interviews
An interview with Frances Fox Piven
Few theorists of social movements have shaped the events that they analyze. Frances Fox Piven, Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the City University of New York and one of these few, has studied and agitated within American social…
April 17, 2020Analysis
Shaping the base of a renewable economy
February 27, 2020Analysis
On the neoclassical and stratification theories of race
February 13, 2020Interviews
An interview with Kim Phillips-Fein
Kim Phillips-Fein is an associate professor of history at New York University and the author of the books "Invisible Hands: the Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal" and "Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics",…
February 6, 2020Analysis
Exploring the limits of Expected Utility
I once wrote a post criticizing modern microeconomic models as both overly complex and unrealistic, leading their practitioners into theoretical dead ends without much corresponding increase in explanatory power. I suggested the entire enterprise of Expected Utility (EU) was a…
January 30, 2020Analysis
Fair algorithms from the seventeenth century to the present
As national and regional governments form expert commissions to regulate “automated decision-making,” a new corporate-sponsored field of research proposes to formalize the elusive ideal of “fairness” as a mathematical property of algorithms and especially of their outputs.
January 29, 2020Interviews
An interview with Lorraine Daston
Lorraine Daston has published widely in the history of science, including on probability and statistics, scientific objectivity and observation, game theory, monsters, and much else. Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science since 1995 (emeritus as…
January 23, 2020Analysis
Lessons from the 1970s experiments in guaranteed income
One of the questions at the heart of contemporary debates over the merits of UBI is ‘what would it fund?’ In other words, what type of activities would it encourage? There are of course the widely debunked quibbles about guaranteed…
January 16, 2020Analysis
On incorporating distributional concerns into macroeconomic models
Recent years have seen the revival of academic conversation around rising wealth inequality and its distributional consequences. But while applied, microeconomics-oriented fields like public and labor economics have long engaged with questions around inequality, macroeconomics has historically paid less attention…
December 23, 2019Sources
Thank you for reading the JFI letter this year. As we prepare for another year of research and link sharing, here's some of what we sent in 2019. We'll see you in 2020. OVER ILLUMINATION Highlights from a year of…
December 20, 2019Reviews
Caitlin Zaloom's ethnography of the American higher ed crisis
Indebted is anthropologist and NYU Professor Caitlin Zaloom’s deep dive into the middle-class American family’s struggle to solve the college cost puzzle. Its animating question: How can middle-class families maintain their status and provide their children with as much opportunity…
November 22, 2019Analysis
The effects of big development initiatives
Infrastructure lies at the heart of development. From transportation and telecommunication networks to electrical grids and water pipelines, large-scale infrastructure projects play a pivotal role in the global development landscape.
November 7, 2019Analysis
What rural electrification can teach us about a just transition
This year, we once again shattered the record for atmospheric carbon concentration, and witnessed a series of devastating setbacks in US climate policy—from attempts to waive state protections against pipelines to wholesale attacks on climate science.
October 24, 2019Interviews
An interview with John Roemer
Throughout his career, John Roemer's work has been uniquely situated between the fields of microeconomics, game theory, philosophy, and political science. His research makes use of the tools of classical economics to analyze dynamics typically thought to be outside the…
October 21, 2019Sources
Of the many justifications for introducing a universal basic income, automation is among the most popular. Over the past years, a slew of reports and endless media coverage has raised the specter of mass "technological unemployment"—a possible future that has…
October 17, 2019Analysis
On the hunt for the correct counterfactual
October 11, 2019Analysis
The shortcomings of causal and counterfactual thinking about racial discrimination
Legal claims of disparate impact discrimination go something like this: A company uses some system (e.g., hiring test, performance review, risk assessment tool) in a way that impacts people. Somebody sues, arguing that it has a disproportionate adverse effect on…
September 26, 2019Interviews
An interview with Seda Gürses and Bekah Overdorf
Software that structures increasingly detailed aspects of contemporary life is built for optimization. These programs require a mapping of the world in a way that is computationally legible, and translating the messy world into one that makes sense to a…
September 12, 2019Analysis
Three competing theories of money
August 8, 2019Interviews
An Interview with Mark Granovetter
Few living scholars have had the influence of Mark Granovetter. In a career spanning almost 50 years, his seminal contributions to his own field of sociology have spread to shape research in economics, computer science, and even epidemiology.
August 1, 2019Analysis
Can you fix political problems with new web infrastructures?
The internet's early proliferation was steeped in cyber-utopian ideals. The circumvention of censorship and gatekeeping, digital public squares, direct democracy, revitalized civic engagement, the “global village”—these were all anticipated characteristics of the internet age, premised on the notion that digital…
July 18, 2019Analysis
How student debt cancellation affects the racial wealth gap
The effect of cancelling student debt on various measures of individual and group-level inequality has been a matter of controversy, especially given presidential candidates’ recent and high-profile proposals to eliminate outstanding student debt.
July 11, 2019Reviews
A new book by James Crotty reexamines the career of John Maynard Keynes
What drives economic growth and stagnation? What types of methodologies and tools do we need to accurately explain economic epochs in the past and present? What models and policy approaches can lead to prosperity for all?
July 3, 2019Analysis
The uses of algorithms discussed in the first part of this article vary widely: from hiring decisions to bail assignment, to political campaigns and military intelligence.
Across all these applications of machine learning methods, there is a common thread: Data on individuals is used to treat different individuals differently. In the past, broadly speaking, such commercial and government activities used to target everyone in a given…
June 27, 2019Analysis
On prediction, profits, votes, and militarism.
Terminology like "machine learning," "artificial intelligence," "deep learning," and "neural nets" is pervasive: business, universities, intelligence agencies, and political parties are all anxious to maintain an edge over the use of these technologies.
June 13, 2019Interviews
An interview with Adam Przeworski
Throughout the 20th century, radical social movements were plagued by their relationship to existing state institutions. Across Western Europe, labor movements found political expression in parties like the Swedish Social Democrats, the German SPD, and the French Socialist Party.
May 31, 2019Analysis
It's by now common wisdom that American copyright law is burdensome, excessive, and failing to promote the ideals that protection ought to.
It's by now common wisdom that American copyright law is burdensome, excessive, and failing to promote the ideals that protection ought to. Too many things, critics argue, are subject to copyright protections, and the result is an inefficient legal morass…
May 16, 2019Interviews
An interview with Almaz Zelleke
Feminist and women's movements in the mid-20th century developed demands for an unconditional basic income that emerged out of concrete experiences with the welfare state. What can the current discussion around UBI learn from examining this largely sidelined history?
May 3, 2019Interviews
An interview with Rosella Cappella Zielinski
Academic study of war in the social sciences is as old as historiography itself, and political economists have considered the economic logic of war and peace for centuries. Yet social scientists have left several questions on the financing of conflict…
April 29, 2019Sources
In nearly every major urban center, housing affordability is in crisis. Since the 1960s, median home value has risen by 112% across the country, while median owner incomes rose just 50%. For renters, especially since 2008, the problem is increasingly…
March 28, 2019Analysis
If we wish to pick good policies, we should run experiments adaptively
Randomized experiments have become part of the standard toolkit for policy evaluation, and are usually designed to give precise estimates of causal effects. But, in practice, their actual goal is to pick good policies. These two goals are not the…
March 22, 2019Analysis
On the theory of monopsony
Early on in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith asked who had the edge in negotiations between bosses and wage laborers. His answer: the bosses. In the case of a stalemate, landlords and manufacturers “could generally live a year or…
March 19, 2019Analysis
Uncovering the ideology embedded in economics
When the media talks about ideological indoctrination in education, it is usually assumed to refer to liberal arts professors pushing their liberal agenda. Less discussed is the very different strain of ideology found in economics.
March 1, 2019Analysis
The 'magic bucket' of universal cash transfers
Imagine a system where everyone had a right to basic material safety, and could say “no” to abuse and exploitation. Sounds utopian? I argue that it would be quite feasible to get there, and that it would make eminent economic,…
January 24, 2019Analysis
Explanations of political polarization
U.S. politics is beset by increasing polarization. Ideological clustering is common; partisan antipathy is increasing; extremity is becoming the norm (Dimock et al. 2014). This poses a serious collective problem. Why is it happening?
December 14, 2018Interviews
An interview with Johannes Haushofer
November 9, 2018Analysis
How medieval financiers lent in the age of uncertainty
In 1596, Spanish troops under the leadership of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia set fire to their own ships in the waters near Cadiz. The sinking of these thirty-two vessels was a tactical necessity: a joint Anglo-Dutch navy had annihilated the…
October 10, 2018Analysis
Can you bias a coin?
October 2, 2018Analysis
New realities in Dynamicland
If you don’t look up, Dynamicland seems like a normal room on the second floor of an ordinary building in downtown Oakland. There are tables and chairs, couches and carpets, scattered office supplies, and pictures taped up on the walls.…