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April 18, 2024

Analysis

The Origins of Conditionality

How the IMF turned to austerity

Contemporary debates around the governance of the global economy often center on the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), arguably the most powerful international organization that—among other responsibilities—provides loans to countries in economic crisis. The most recent iteration of…

April 17, 2024

Analysis

New World Order?

Lender(s) of last resort, dollar dominance, and the global financial safety net

We live in a dysfunctional system in which money flows out of the countries that need it most and into the coffers of the wealthiest. In 2023, the private sector collected $68 billion more in interest and principal repayments than…

March 23, 2024

Sources

In January, Haiti paid Venezuela $500 million to settle $2.3 billion in arrears from PetroCaribe loans. Between 2005 and 2014, PetroCaribe became the largest single source of concessional finance to Caribbean countries, more than doubling US foreign assistance to the region.

March 21, 2024

Analysis

100 Days of Milei

Argentina under the “chainsaw”

Javier Milei’s election to the Argentine presidency in November sent shockwaves throughout the country. While the media personality was not altogether an outsider, his party La Libertad Avanza (LLA), formed in 2021, fundamentally lacked political experience. Until Milei’s inauguration in…

March 16, 2024

Sources

On March 6, Egypt agreed to float its currency in exchange for a $5 billion increase in its current loan program with the IMF. It remains to be seen how long the Egyptian pound may remain flexible, as the inflationary effects of a devalued currency…

March 14, 2024

Analysis

Liberal Blindspots

An interview with Chris Shaw

Protests led by farmers have been roiling Europe for months. In Belgium, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands, Poland, and France, farmers—armed with grievances ranging from subsidized Ukrainian grain imports to the EU-Mercosur trade deal and falling prices—have been taking to the…

March 2, 2024

Sources

The CHIPS and Science Act aspires to draw the manufacturing of US leading technologies back into domestic supply chains. Speaking on the policy's implementation, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo stated earlier this week that the US is on track to manufacture 20 percent of leading-edge logic chips…

March 2, 2024

Analysis

Oil Linkages

State-led development in Angola and Nigeria

Oil and gas producers in Africa face unique challenges in pursuing state-led development. The resource curse, and specifically the phenomenon of “Dutch disease”, which inflates the value of the local currency, makes exporting local products abroad difficult. As long as…

February 24, 2024

Sources

In light of Israel’s assault on Gaza post-October 7 and growing instability in the region, S&P Global and Moody’s have both downgraded Israel's credit rating to "negative." Israeli finance minister and extremist settler Bezalel Smotrich called the revisions "alarmist" and politically motivated. 

February 17, 2024

Sources

On Thursday, a few months ahead of nationwide elections, India's Supreme Court banned electoral bonds—anonymous political donations sold by the State Bank of India. Since the Modi government introduced electoral bonds in 2017, more than $1.9 billion in secret donations have been distributed to political parties. 

February 10, 2024

Sources

The inflation slowdown in the United States stabilized in the last half of 2023 at approximately 3.1 percent. A January report by Liz Pancotti and Lindsay Owens of Groundwork Collaborative attributes most of the rise in prices during the last quarter to corporate profits. 

January 27, 2024

Sources

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, marking a triumph for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and far-right Hindu groups including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The temple was built on the…

January 27, 2024

Analysis

The Falling Lira

Turkey’s state of permanent crisis

Since late 2021, the Turkish economy has been shattering conventional economic expectations. With deeply negative real interest rates, high inflation, a large and persistent current account deficit, an external debt stock exceeding 50 percent of GDP, and a central bank…

January 25, 2024

Interviews

Brand New India

An interview with Ravinder Kaur on the BJP’s “India Shining” campaign, Hindu nationalist designs, and globalist visions

With India headed to elections this April, the ruling BJP is rolling out enormous publicity campaigns to promote its record on economic growth and Hindu nationalism. Central to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third bid for reelection is the narrative that…

January 20, 2024

Sources

Because of their ability to own property, enter into contracts, and stand in court independently of their owners, charted corporations facilitated the long term capital commitment that often underpinned industrialization. Standard accounts hold that states primarily contributed to the rise of the corporate form…

January 17, 2024

Analysis

Miracle in Reverse

The trials of South Korea’s growth models

The South Korean economy has widely been recognized as the paragon of the East Asian miracle, with rapid economic growth and a fairly equal income distribution. The country continued its upward growth trajectory even in the aftermath of the 1997…

January 13, 2024

Sources

This week, arguments were presented in South Africa's proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The landmark case, whose initial results will not be clear for weeks, has placed international law and its voluntary institutions at the…

January 13, 2024

Reviews

Moralizing Money

On Jakob Feinig’s “Moral Economies of Money”

Since 2021, inflation has featured as among the most salient issues in American public discourse, with voters actively awaiting pronouncements from the Federal Reserve. Inflation mattered in the 2022 midterm elections, and it looms large over the 2024 presidential election.…

January 6, 2024

Sources

Houthi-led attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have caused major disruptions in maritime trade. With land-locked Ethiopia also recently signing an agreement with Somaliland to gain Red Sea access, the trade route is now the site of multiple geopolitical conflicts. 

January 6, 2024

Analysis

External Imbalance

Inflation, exchange rates, and the Argentine peso

In August 2023, a week after winning Argentina’s primary elections, now-president Javier Milei, publicly stated that the Argentine peso was “worth less than excrement.” In the next two days, the dollar-peso parallel exchange rate climbed almost 20 percent, intensifying the…

December 22, 2023

Analysis

Learning Curves

The trials of offshore wind and tech forecasting

Over the last ten years, the surface of the Earth warmed by another 0.5°C. At the same time, renewable energy grew its share of world electricity production from 5 to over 11 percent. These are the basic coordinates for the…

December 21, 2023

Analysis

A Year in Crises

Trade, war, labor, and South-North dynamics in 2023

When we launched The Polycrisis a year ago, we set out to examine the intersecting crises in the economy, energy system, commodities markets, geopolitics, and climate. Our aim was to break intellectual and political silos to give a fuller picture…

December 20, 2023

Interviews

Petro at COP28

An interview with Manuel Rodríguez Becerra

Upon entering office in July 2022, Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro voiced a strong stance against fossil fuels, marking a contrast with other left-wing leaders in Latin America who rose to power through resources gained from extractive economies. Petro’s emphatic critique…

December 17, 2023

Sources

In 2023, Phenomenal World sparked discussion across urgent issues of political economy, investigating the IMF, debt, and the dollar; the future of industrial policy in the global South; legacies of the left in Latin America; crucial elections around the world, and more.

December 15, 2023

Interviews

Governing the Climate

An interview with Navroz Dubash on COP28, the history of international climate diplomacy, and the developmentalist turn in climate politics

An interview with Navroz Dubash on COP28, the history of international climate diplomacy, and the developmentalist turn in climate politics

December 15, 2023

Analysis

Constitutional Odysseys

In the upcoming vote, a battle over Chile’s identity

On September 11, 1980—seven years after Augusto Pinochet seized power from democratically elected Salvador Allende in a brutal American-backed military coup—the dictatorship passed a constitution that laid the groundwork for one of the world’s earliest and most enduring neoliberal experiments.…

December 9, 2023

Analysis

Climate Divergence

The politics of green central banking at the Fed and ECB

Ten years ago, the current predicament of central bankers would seem unthinkable: to what extent should they contribute to society’s response to climate change? As the impacts of climate change have escalated, most central banks have begun to appreciate the…

December 9, 2023

Sources

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.

December 2, 2023

Sources

In September, Azerbaijan launched a military attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. The majority ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijani borders has been the site of territorial disputes since its creation within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1923. But the latest conflagration resulted in a ceasefire whose…

November 25, 2023

Sources

election, defeating Sergio Massa of the incumbent Unión por la Patria (UP) coalition. UP has its roots in Peronism, a traditionally left-wing political movement founded by Juan Perón in the 1940s.  

November 22, 2023

Analysis

The Doom Loop

Insurance markets and climate risk

Recent coverage of insurance markets has highlighted the industry’s involvement in the so-called “climate risk doom loop”: looming climate risks and greater disaster damages are raising the price of insurance for real estate and infrastructure assets, exacerbating their owners’ vulnerability…

November 18, 2023

Sources

Israel, Egypt, and Jordan are among the world's largest recipients of US foreign aid. Last month, President Joe Biden requested an additional $14.3 billion in assistance to Israel in the context of the war in Gaza. In 2023, Jordan received a total of $1.65 billion in…

November 11, 2023

Sources

On Nov 7, Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa, of the Socialist Party, resigned as state prosecutors launched an investigation into alleged corruption and "influence peddling" in the context of hydrogen and lithium projects.

November 4, 2023

Sources

After six weeks of sit-down strikes, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has reached tentative contract agreements with each of the Big Three automakers: Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors. Many of the wage tiers the Big Three installed over a decade ago to reduce labor…


Rate Transformation

Interest rate swaps are modern repos

On September 28, 2023, the Bank of England opened permanent liquidity facilities to nonbanking financial entities—such as pension funds, insurers, and investment funds— many of whom have a role in the interest rate swap market. The move is unprecedented. Historically,…

October 28, 2023

Sources

Driven by urbanization, increased consumption, and rising populations, the global waste and recycling market grew to $57.69 billion last year. Plastic, electronic, and iron waste are among major commodities traded, often from developed to developing countries. 

October 28, 2023

Analysis

The Dollarization Threat

Javier Milei and Argentina’s pivotal election

The results of Argentina’s first-round elections on October 22 were not to be expected. Conservative former security minister and election favorite Patricia Bullrich came in third place, knocking her out of the running for the presidency, which will be decided…

October 21, 2023

Sources

Following a violent attack by Hamas on October 7, the Israeli state has laid siege to the Gaza Strip: thousand of bombs have been dropped, electricity has been cut, and food, water, and fuel supplies are running dangerously low. Over 3,785 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been…

October 21, 2023

Analysis

Democratic Preconditions

Post-Communism and Poland’s recent elections

Poland’s parliamentary elections last Sunday have led to victory for Donald Tusk and his party, Koalicja Obywatelska (Civic Coalition). Although the ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Right and Justice, or PiS) Party received the largest share of the vote, 35.4 percent,…

October 14, 2023

Sources

Evolving property regimes, labor market structures, and waves of financialization have transformed agriculture in the global South. In recent Phenomenal World essays, authors reveal the different forms by which agriculture is shaped by state policies and increasingly subordinated to global capital markets. 

October 14, 2023

Analysis

The Renters’ Constituency

The politics of homeownership in Australia

In developed economies around the world, housing has been transformed into a major asset. It is no coincidence that rates of homeownership have precipitously increased at the same time as governments in formerly social-democratic countries have reduced basic social safety nets.…

October 12, 2023

Analysis

Hot Labor

Labor movements, labor markets, and mining

The energy transition is underway and the global North is putting up the cash. In our series, we have investigated questions about the international hierarchy of money, the distribution of economic power, and trade wars. Today, we turn to labor,…

October 7, 2023

Sources

Remittances, which surpass half a trillion dollars globally, can dramatically shape recipient economies. India alone received almost $100 billion in remittances in 2022, and the state of Kerala in particular has undergone major shifts as a result of these financial flows. 

September 30, 2023

Sources

Joan Robinson (1903-1983), who worked in an era when few women economists were respected in the academy, was a pioneering theorist of capitalism. She rejected the neoclassical notion that just wages were naturally determined through competition among workers and capitalists, instead arguing that monopsonies—a single buyer enforcing…

September 23, 2023

Sources

The tenth year of China's Belt and Road Initiative will be marked in Beijing at next month's Belt and Road Initiative Forum. Often referred to as a unitary policy project, the BRI consists of a sprawling series of investments spanning continents and infrastructure…

September 16, 2023

Sources

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military, led by General Augusto Pinochet, and with support from the CIA, overthrew the socialist government of President Salvador Allende. The fiftieth anniversary of the coup has occasioned several reflections on the impact of Pinochet's neoliberal reforms.

September 15, 2023

Analysis

Trading Order

Protectionism and interdependence pact?

Export Bans. Sanctions. Investment screens. The liberal trading order has been weaponized; security, not efficiency, is the new watchword. And yet, 2023 has seen an all-time high of goods traded across borders. Even bilateral trade between the warring great powers,…

September 9, 2023

Sources

Since 2020, there have been military coups in six Francophone African countries—Mali, Chad, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, and most recently Gabon. The region has also witnessed unprecedented civic protests against the French government.  In a 2021 book, FANNY PIGEAUD and NDONGO SAMBA SYLLA examine…

September 2, 2023

Sources

Several investment banks have recently downgraded their growth forecasts for China in response to mounting debt crises, the closure of major real estate firms, and rising youth unemployment.  In a 2013 book, MICHAEL PETTIS examines the fundamental imbalance in China's post-reform economic model, which prioritizes exports over domestic…

August 31, 2023

Analysis

Grievance and Reform

Will the BRICS bargaining chip bear fruit for smaller and lower-income countries?

The precursor of 2022’s energy crisis was 2020–2021’s vaccine apartheid. These shortages were in no way natural but reflected financial and geopolitical hierarchies: those with more power and resources bid up prices and developing countries lost out in the process.…

August 26, 2023

Sources

Feminist economists have problematized the "unitary" conceptualization of the household, probing the black box of domestic life to explore how allocations of labor and resources are contested within the family. 

August 23, 2023

Analysis

Coercion and Inequality

The distributional effects of sanctions in Iran

“Plumbing” is an oft-used metaphor for understanding how sanctions work. Sanctions are intended to stop the flow of money to the targeted government; reserves are frozen, trade is blocked, export revenues dry up, and government budgets are drained. Even the…

August 19, 2023

Sources

From the mid 1960s, a group of international scholars—including Issa G. Shivji, Walter Rodney, John S. Saul, Giovani Arrighi—gathered at the University of Dar es Salaam to study the political and economic issues facing a newly postcolonial Africa. Looking past the…

August 17, 2023

Analysis

Hockey Sticks and Crosses

Images that define the globalization debate

Images that define the globalization debate

August 12, 2023

Sources

Founded in the 1970s in Paris, the Regulation School was a group of scholars who offered a novel conceptualization of economic history. Rejecting the notion of universal economic laws, they presented capitalism's development as a series of phases, each defined by certain social and institutional forms, with an…

August 5, 2023

Sources

Since April 15, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been fighting to take control over Sudan. Extensive war crimes have been committed by both sides. 

August 3, 2023

Analysis

Global Boiling

Stocks and flows, action and inaction in the planetary impasse

This July has been the hottest in our recorded history and, most likely, over the last 120,000 years. Four “Heat Domes” across the northern hemisphere—over West Asia, North America, North Africa and Southern Europe—contributed to soaring temperatures, not just breaking…

July 29, 2023

Sources

Between the late 1950s and the 1970s, several European commercial banks formed clubs to share information and collaborate on services. 

July 22, 2023

Sources

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador came to power in 2018 vowing to end the country's war on drugs. Yet, as he nears the end of his six-year tenure, the immensely complex drug trade continues to yield high levels of violence.

July 20, 2023

Analysis

Washington-Paris-London Calling

Modi, Mottley, Zelenskyy’s attempts to change the existing world order

On June 22, three leaders of developing countries made expeditions to three different Western capitals to plead their case for greater support from the rich world. Viewed jointly, these demands—largely successful—provide a neat panorama of the escalating global crises of…

July 15, 2023

Sources

The Dutch coalition government collapsed last week, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigning after centrist coalition members refused to support highly restrictive policies for refugees. 


Global Payments

Systemic risk and the end of LIBOR

The last day of June marked the final printing of the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR)—an average of anticipated interest rates among London banks which has thus far served as the benchmark for short term and off-shore lending around the…

July 8, 2023

Sources

Many post-colonial governments have attempted to pass land reforms to abolish feudal relations and promote equitable development. This process remains incomplete.

July 8, 2023

Analysis

Solar Ambitions

Can Spain become a leading producer of renewable energy?

In Spain’s forthcoming snap elections, the energy transition is high on the agenda, and solar power at the forefront. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has often expressed ambitions to make Spain the lead producer of solar electricity on the continent, positioning…

July 1, 2023

Sources

Sovereign credit ratings—typically issued by Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's—strongly determine the volume of credit extended to a government and on what terms.

June 29, 2023

Analysis

Carbon Budget versus Fiscal Budget

What’s at stake in the fiscal rules debate?

Negotiations at the Summit for a Global Finance Pact in Paris last week took place between fifty heads of state. They revolved around how poor countries might develop and decarbonize, within the confines of the existing financial system. A common…

June 17, 2023

Sources

Wassily Leontief (1906–99) was a Russian-born American economist who pioneered Input-Output analysis, which models the interdependence of an economy’s various productive sectors.

June 15, 2023

Analysis

Mottley in Paris, Modi in DC

Prospects for the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact

Next week, a couple of dozen heads of state—from countries including China, Brazil, Indonesia, and almost a dozen African countries, among them Kenya, Zambia, and Senegal—will gather in Paris for the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact. Instigated by…

June 10, 2023

Sources

The farm bill, an omnibus package of legislation passed every five years, is due for reauthorization in September. Funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, are tied to the bill. 

June 3, 2023

Sources

Last month, the liberal Move Forward party won the most seats in Thailand's central elections. Its policy proposals include amending the lèse majesté law, which imposes long jail sentences on those convicted of insulting the royal family.  

June 1, 2023

Analysis

Friends With (Metal) Benefits

Australia’s bid for “friendshoring” in the shifting green world order

When Americans ran short on baby food last year, President Joe Biden made use of a Korean War-era authority—the Defense Production Act (DPA)—to airlift goat milk from Australia, despite protectionist howls from American formula companies. Operation Fly Formula funded the…

May 31, 2023

Analysis

Industrial Transformations

Lessons from development economics for industrial policy design

The latest US experiment with industrial policy—exemplified by the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—has sparked outright opposition and pleas for restraint, but also calls for a far more ambitious action.

May 27, 2023

Sources

Since the invasion of Ukraine, a growing financial alliance between Russia and China has prompted discussions around threats to US dollar hegemony. But despite the rise of the Renminbi and other currencies, many argue that the dollar remains dominant.

May 27, 2023

Analysis

Pecuniary Salvation

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 20, 2023

Sources

The first international labor convention in 1919 declared the adoption of an 8-hour work day or a 48-hour work week. But for decades following, labor time standards varied greatly throughout European colonies, reflecting different forms colonial rule across and within empires.

May 18, 2023

Analysis

A New Foreign Policy

To beat China you must become China

Leaders need followers. Last month, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan delivered a speech outlining the Biden administration’s international economic policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington. The “New Washington Consensus” was not directed at citizens but at capitals abroad.…

May 13, 2023

Sources

Alice H. Amsden (1943-2012) was a pathbreaking developmental economist who examined East Asia's economic rise in the late twentieth century. 

May 10, 2023

Analysis

Two-Price Economy

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…

May 6, 2023

Sources

Last month, the Chilean government announced plans to nationalize the country's lithium industry, which is dominated by two companies, Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) and Albemarle. 

May 5, 2023

Analysis

The End of the Cold Peace

Can the Asian growth miracle survive?

Watch the Korean Peninsula. It is in South Korea that the New Cold War has most visibly upset the delicate balance between industry, security, and domestic politics. South Korea’s growth miracle has been based on deterrence and detente between China,…

April 29, 2023

Sources

The G20's Common Framework is meant to help poor countries restructure their debts following the expiration of Covid-era measures like the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The Framework notably sought to coordinate debt relief between "Paris Club" creditors and states like China and India. 


Best Execution?

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 22, 2023

Sources

Italian scholar Giovanni Arrighi (1937-2009) was one of the foremost proponents of the discipline of World Systems Theory. His research subjects included decolonization in Africa, industrial and agricultural change in Italy, and state capitalism in China—all developments he analyzed in the light of global economic relations. 

April 20, 2023

Analysis

The Gigantic Austerity Drive Underway

Two billion people are suffering austerity as governments follow IMF diktat

We are quietly witnessing the largest shift to austerity undertaken in this century. Debt-strained developing countries are making further cuts to already ragged budgets, in many cases as they battle to meet punishing new conditions demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which held…

April 15, 2023

Sources

In 1990, the United Nations Security Council, led by the US, imposed a broad swathe of sanctions on Iraq in response the country's attack on Kuwait. Most of the sanctions remained in place when the US launched a ground invasion of Iraq in 2003. 


Illusions of Decontrol

The myth of Germany’s “social market economy”

The founding myth of modern Germany can be traced back to June 20, 1948, when Ludwig Erhard, economic director of the Anglo-American occupation zone in Germany, created the Deutsche Mark. To stabilize the new currency, he paired the paper issue…

April 8, 2023

Sources

After the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced that it would protect all depositors, including those with amounts over $250,000.

April 6, 2023

Analysis

Mercantilist Deals of the Great Powers

Decoupling from China is an uphill task in both the global North and the global South

This is the twelfth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. The maiden flight of a new cargo route between Shenzhen and São Paulo took off on…

April 1, 2023

Sources

Last week, Shaw Fain won the presidency of the United Auto Workers (UAW), defeating incumbent Ray Curry of the Administration Caucus. The election comes in the wake of a federal investigation that discovered widespread corruption among UAW leadership. 

April 1, 2023

Analysis

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 25, 2023

Sources

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…

March 23, 2023

Analysis

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 18, 2023

Sources

The South Korean government recently announced that it would compensate Koreans who served as forced laborers for Japanese corporations under colonial rule. The reparation funds will be raised domestically; Japanese corporations will not contribute. 

March 11, 2023

Sources

Last month, in order to enforce stronger content moderation and transparency rules, the European Union's 2022 Digital Services Act began requiring major social media platforms in Europe to self-report their user size. Days later, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Section 230, which protects platforms from being liable for…

March 9, 2023

Analysis

Cash, Cars, Chemicals (and Corn)

Three big decarbonization plots

This is the tenth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. Decarbonization—reducing the output of invisible CO2 molecules into the atmosphere—requires nothing less than remaking the chemical basis of…

March 4, 2023

Sources

On February 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck large parts of Turkey and Syria. Since then, the death toll has risen above 50,000 and over 160,000 buildings have collapsed. 

March 3, 2023

Analysis

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…

February 25, 2023

Sources

On February 3, a freight train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. The major accident was later declared "100 percent preventable." Falling safety standards in the industry can be traced back to the Staggers Act of 1980, which spurred deregulation. Examining the aftermath of this shift, a…

February 23, 2023

Analysis

Debt and Power in Pakistan

The subcontinent’s embattled debtor isn’t merely the passive victim of the climate crisis— it is being plundered by its elites

The subcontinent’s embattled debtor isn’t merely the passive victim of the climate crisis—it is being plundered by its elites.

February 18, 2023

Sources

Chile has long been known in the region for relatively steady growth paired with high levels of income inequality. The country's economic trajectory has been linked to its "labor flexibilization" policies implemented under Pinochet, which have not changed substantially since the transition to democracy in 1990.

February 11, 2023

Sources

Protests against a measure to raise the retirement age in France and news of China's population decline have prompted discussion around aging populations and implications for social policy. 

February 9, 2023

Analysis

The EU and the IRA

Supply and demand in the great powers’ decarbonization race

This is the eighth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. At Davos last month, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced Brussels’ “Green Deal Industrial…

February 8, 2023

Analysis

The Long Run

Austerity’s impacts on GDP

Few economic terms over the last few decades have been more influential than “austerity,” invoked by governments and financial institutions as a blanket solution for economic crises, and inspiring intense debate in the public sphere. Austerity, defined by economists as “a…

February 4, 2023

Sources

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Colombia’s new Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez Torres, announced that the country's government would not approve any new oil and gas exploration projects. 

January 28, 2023

Sources

Last week, over a million people in France marched in protest of President Macron's planned pension reforms. The reforms would raise the retirement age and require workers to contribute a minimum of 43 years in social security payments in order to qualify for a full state pension. 

January 28, 2023

Analysis

Gender and the Great Resignation

Dynamics of gender and class in the Covid-era labor market

The much anticipated “return to normal” after the Covid-19 pandemic has been anything but. In contrast to the aftermath of previous economic crises, workers have not rushed back to work. Each month over a period of nine months in 2021,…

January 26, 2023

Analysis

Don’t Say “Scramble for Africa”

Debt and diplomacy on the African continent

Debt, diplomacy, and the risks of a new Cold War.

January 21, 2023

Sources

Oxfam India's latest report revealed that 84 percent of the country suffered a decline in wealth in 2022, even as the number of billionaires grew from 102 to 142. The report notes reduced state investment in public education and healthcare, along with an increased reliance on indirect…

January 14, 2023

Sources

This week, Ghana's government reached an agreement to raise public sector salaries by 30 percent in response to rapidly rising inflation, now at 54 percent. In addition to demanding wage increases, the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC)—the nation's largest labor organization—has rejected certain austerity measures proposed by the government,…

January 14, 2023

Analysis

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.

January 12, 2023

Analysis

Inflation and Energy

Can clean energy reduce inflationary pressures?

This is the sixth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. There has been little research into the inflationary implications of either climate change itself, or of responses to climate…

January 12, 2023

Interviews

Emergency Prices

An interview with Isabella Weber

In How China Escaped Shock Therapy (2021), Isabella Weber analyzes how China applied market reforms selectively, avoiding the broad agenda of liberalization advocated for in the West. Retaining oversight of prices for critical goods was key to this strategy.  Recently,…

January 7, 2023

Sources

In response to escalating industrial unrest, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's newly proposed anti-strike legislation threatens to impose "minimum service levels" in key public sectors. The laws constitute the latest in a longrunning history of state intervention in workplace disputes.

December 17, 2022

Sources

Over the past year, Phenomenal World has inspired discussion across spheres of political economy, publishing on topics including the politics of debt and climate, the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflation and its policy responses, and pivotal elections…

December 15, 2022

Analysis

Europe’s “Leap Into the Future”

Do exceptional crisis-fighting policies signal the arrival of an interventionist Europe? 

This is the fifth edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. In 2020, as demand for liquefied natural gas boomed in Asia, the shippable fuel was an afterthought in…

December 10, 2022

Sources

This week's Mercosur summit exposed rifts between the trade bloc's four members—Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay—with Uruguay stating the intention to form trade partnerships outside the bloc, and Argentina pushing for a renegotiation of the 2019 EU-Mercosur agreement.

December 3, 2022

Sources

After months of negotiations, US congressional lawmakers are desperately trying to avert a national strike on the country's railways. With nearly half of the workforce rejecting the Biden administration's earlier proposals, pressure on business and trade union representatives is rising.

December 3, 2022

Analysis

Realignments

Bolsonarismo and Brazil’s shifting middle-class vote

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva may have won last month’s presidential elections, but the strength of Bolsonarismo has been confirmed. In both houses of the National Congress, Bolsonarismo and its allies made gains, overcoming the traditional right wing. In the…

December 2, 2022

Analysis

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, 2022

Sources

In September, Hurricane Ian devastated southwestern Florida, with floodwater and power outages causing significant damage to homes and businesses. Rebuilding efforts have since revealed gaps in flood insurance policies.  

November 18, 2022

Analysis

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 12, 2022

Sources

Following years of government subsidies, the Chinese aluminum extrusion industry now threatens to wipe out domestic producers in the EU, UK, and US should tariff rates fall too low (the UK is most at risk, with 10.1% rates compared to the EU's 22.1%…

November 12, 2022

Analysis

The Sacrifice Zone

Mining communities in the wake of Chile’s constitutional referendum

In September 2022, 62 percent of Chilean voters rejected the country's proposed new constitution. The defeat took many by surprise—the demands to rewrite the existing charter had been loud and seemingly unanimous. For followers of Chile’s extractive industries, however, the…

November 5, 2022

Sources

Earlier this year, India increased its coal production in response to heat wave-induced electricity shortages. The power crisis prompted new concerns around India's efforts towards transitioning to renewable energy, and it exposed deep vulnerabilities in country's fragmented electricity sector.  

November 3, 2022

Analysis

Domestic Politics & Planetary Change

Will a Lula victory be better for the climate than anything that happens at COP27?

Will a Lula victory be better for the climate than anything that happens at COP27?

October 29, 2022

Sources

In recent months, over 230,000 claimants have sued multinational conglomerate 3M for faulty products, launching the largest mass tort litigation in US history. In response, the company resorted to the infamous "Texas Two-Step," a bankruptcy scheme which allows companies to sidestep allegations by dividing…

October 22, 2022

Sources

Last week, Egypt reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF to receive its fourth loan in six years. The nation struggles with a high debt-to-GDP ratio, and its net foreign reserves have plummeted in value since 2019. 

October 20, 2022

Analysis

An Introduction

An introduction to The Polycrisis

This is the first edition of The Polycrisis newsletter, written by Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox. What crisis? A year ago, one might be forgiven for thinking there was a moment of relative calm…

October 15, 2022

Sources

In late September, India was projected to overtake the UK as the world's fifth largest economy. Though it has since been modified, the country's expected growth rate reflects a steady upswing since the late 1980s.

October 8, 2022

Sources

In the first round of Brazil's presidential elections last Sunday, former President Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva received the highest percentage of votes, followed by President Jair Bolsonaro, who performed better than expected to force a runoff. 

October 1, 2022

Sources

Ongoing interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve combined with the recently published "mini-budget" have sent the UK economy into turmoil, prompting the Bank of England to buy £65 billion in long term government securities.

September 24, 2022

Sources

Hurricane Fiona's landfall last week left all of Puerto Rico without electricity, exposing weaknesses in the island's electricity grid following a controversial privatization in June 2021. 

September 17, 2022

Sources

Last week, the referendum to overhaul Chile's Pinochet-era constitution lost by more than 20%. The result was surprising: in 2020, nearly 80% of the population voted in favor of rewriting the constitution, and the country's most recent elections brought progressive…

September 10, 2022

Sources

The recent floods in Pakistan have brought attention to the viability of the country's hydropower projects and the debated role of dams in flood management. 

September 3, 2022

Sources

Mikhail Gorbachev's death has prompted renewed reflections on his domestic, regional, and international legacy.This legacy is of particular interest in light of recent trajectory of the Russian economy.

August 27, 2022

Sources

Last month, Bangladesh requested a $4.5 billion loan from the IMF in order to deal with its foreign exchange reserves alongside a crisis of rising food and energy prices. The nation's concerns have drawn comparisons to emergencies in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, leading some to question its status as a "development…

August 24, 2022

Analysis

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 20, 2022

Sources

In recent months, the UK's rising living costs and stagnant wages have given rise to a series of strikes across railways, hospitals, and Amazon warehouses.A 1995 article by BEVERLY SILVER considers the relationship between labor unrest and economic cycles, drawing on a database of…

August 13, 2022

Sources

Last October, the US was instrumental in the signing of a landmark global tax agreement which mandated the imposition of a 15% corporate tax floor on multinational enterprises. The modified Inflation Reduction Act, however, introduces significant loopholes to this standard.

August 6, 2022

Sources

The past few months have seen record-breaking heat waves across the globe. In India, a deadly heat wave in May renewed questions around the nation's health, safety, and economy.

July 30, 2022

Sources

This week, Russia’s state-run energy company Gazprom drastically cut gas supplies— delivered via the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 1 pipeline—to Europe. The move amplified longstanding concerns around European dependence on Russian energy.

July 30, 2022

Analysis

Odious Debts

Iraq, Haiti, and the politics of illegitimate debt

In the aftermath of its 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States was eager to restructure the ailing country’s sovereign debt. International sanctions since the Gulf War meant that Iraq was economically isolated, yet the country had a large stock…

July 23, 2022

Sources

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 16, 2022

Sources

In the midst of a global semiconductor shortage, the US Senate is considering a bill that would fund $52 billion in chip subsidies for domestic production. Today, the vast majority of semiconductors are produced in East Asia, and 90 percent…

July 7, 2022

Sources

Amid the ongoing global energy crisis, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has announced the full renationalization of Electricite de France (EDF), the country's decades old multinational electric utility company.

July 2, 2022

Sources

Among the most notable innovations in trade union strategy since the late 20th century has been the rise of shareholder activism. The approach leverages trillions of dollars in trade union pension funds to navigate the financial sector on behalf of…

June 25, 2022

Sources

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, 2022

Sources

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 11, 2022

Sources

This week, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost clean energy production, including solar technology, heat pumps, insulation, green hydrogen, and transformers. In recent years, the DPA has strayed from its wartime connotations, from coordinating Covid-19 responses, and more…

June 4, 2022

Sources

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, 2022

Sources

This weekend's presidential elections in Colombia could result in the victory of the country's first leftist leader, a center-right former mayor, or a right-wing populist. A central issue is the fate of the 2016 peace deal, with crucial questions around…

May 21, 2022

Sources

This week, labor markets across the US and Europe exhibited seemingly inconsistent trends: while unemployment is at historic lows, claims for unemployment benefits are on the rise, and despite rising overall incomes, many workers face increased financial stress.

May 14, 2022

Sources

News around the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade in the United States has brought renewed attention to abortion rights movements in other parts of the globe, and in particular, Latin America. After decades of court cases, legislative efforts, and…

May 7, 2022

Sources

Since 2018, the Turkish lira has suffered repeated devaluation shocks, increasing rates of loan default and unemployment. These have only been compounded by the pandemic and the Russian invasian of Ukraine—this week, inflation rates in Turkey have skyrocketed to nearly…

April 30, 2022

Sources

Exxon recently announced three oil discoveries off the coast of Guyana, increasing the company's recoverable oil potential in the country to 11 billion barrels. These discoveries have added to the high likelihood of Guyana becoming a major global oil producer in the…

April 23, 2022

Sources

A top economic advisor in the Dominican Republic recently estimated that the loss of Russian and Ukranian visitors would cost the country $400 million in tourism revenue. With 9.5 percent of GDP traced back to tourism reciepts, the DR is…

April 16, 2022

Sources

The latest version of the Omnibus spending bill ends the extension of child nutrition waivers, which expanded access to meals during the school year and summer. The move foreshadows challenges for school meal programs, a cornerstone of welfare policy since…

April 9, 2022

Sources

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…

April 2, 2022

Sources

This week, approximately 50 million workers in India engaged in a national strike against what they see as the “anti-people policies” of Narendra Modi's government. The public banking sector experienced one of the largest disruptions, with employees protesting government proposals for privatization. 

March 26, 2022

Sources

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 23, 2022

Analysis

A New Public Housing Model

Addis Ababa's Urban Transformation

In 2006, the government of Ethiopia embarked on a mission to construct half a million condominium apartments over a twenty-year period in its capital of Addis Ababa—a city of only five million. Now, sixteen years later, the initiative has transformed the…

March 19, 2022

Sources

In December 1973, Richard Nixon announced the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act as a response to the oil crisis, arguing that making the time change permanent would reduce energy usage with "only a minimum of inconvenience." Nearly fifty years…

March 12, 2022

Sources

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 5, 2022

Sources

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, 2022

Sources

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 19, 2022

Sources

The pandemic imposed major stress on municipal budgets around the world, with many local governments facing a mix of decreasing revenues and increasing expenditures. In the United States, municipal budgets—which saw smaller revenue losses than expected—reflected a range of taxing…

February 15, 2022

Sources

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 11, 2022

Analysis

A New Developmentalism?

On the stages of Argentine developmentalism.

In 2003, led by the government of Néstor Kirchner (2003–2007), Argentina’s developmental agenda regained momentum. From the ashes of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization emerged a consensus agenda that put the public sphere at the center of the growth engine. The…

February 5, 2022

Sources

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach processed respectively 10.7 and 9.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo volume in 2021, with the former setting a record high of shipping volume in the Western Hemisphere. Continuing…

February 3, 2022

Analysis

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),…

January 29, 2022

Sources

Concerns over inflation have led to an uptick in research and policy debate over the specific sectoral drivers of price increases—and tools for their management. In a new article in Health Affairs, ROBERT BERENSON and ROBERT MURRAY review the literature…

January 22, 2022

Sources

Earlier this month, a wave of protests spread across Kazakhstan. Though prompted by rising gas prices, the demonstrations soon came to target the country's decades long trajectory of corruption and resource privatization. A 2001 article by ERIKA WEINTHAL and PAULINE JONES LUONG…

January 15, 2022

Sources

This week, the Indian megaconglomerate Adani Group and South Korean steel company POSCO announced plans to build a "green" integrated steel mill in Gujurat, India. The mill marks the latest in the Adani Group's efforts to move into the green industrial sector…

January 8, 2022

Sources

Wealth and political power often come from property ownership, but the dynamics of real estate transactions are often invisible to the general public. Absent a national property database, researchers in the United States are left sifting through tax parcel data…

December 23, 2021

Analysis

Stop, wait, go

Is Germany's new coalition government a return to the status quo?

The new coalition government in Germany, led by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, is the first time that the SDP, the Greens, and the Liberals have joined together in a single government. The cooperation agreement, published on November 24, was the…

December 18, 2021

Sources

Over the last year, PW Sources has covered a wide range of issues—from caste and labor, to social policy in Brazil, to capital flight, and more. We will be off until 2022. As we look forward to the new year, here’s a roundup of…

December 17, 2021

Analysis

Death or glory?

New forms of fascism haunt Chile’s presidential election

In October 2019, a proposed thirty peso hike in public transport fares triggered protests in Santiago that spread to other major cities across the country, denouncing the country’s economic infrastructure with the slogan, “It’s not thirty pesos, it’s thirty years.” Chileans…

December 11, 2021

Sources

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…

December 4, 2021

Sources

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has reached its highest rate in 15 years, with satellite footage recording 5,110 square miles of deforested land. Despite coordinated threats of divestment, institutional investors have thus far failed to act.

November 23, 2021

Analysis

Trade and Growth

Revisiting the effects of trade liberalization on economic growth

According to a survey on free trade from the University of Chicago, economists overwhelmingly agree that free trade’s net effects are good. A recent article by several  IMF economists affirms that, “perhaps more than on any other issue, there is…

November 20, 2021

Sources

In October, over 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike, 1,400 Kellogg's workers followed suit, and observers anticipated thousands more IATSE members and Kaiser Permanente workers to walk out. (After voting down two contracts, workers at Deere reached an agreement last week ending…

November 18, 2021

Analysis

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, 2021

Sources

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, 2021

Sources

After two years of publishing, we are thrilled to launch a new website. Our new home—developed and designed by Partner & Partners—retains the style of our original blog layout, while creating new streams of longform and shortform content, gathering a series section, and collecting past PW Sources…

November 4, 2021

Analysis

Negotiations

The Federation of German Industries’ agenda in the formation of the new German federal government

The new German government will be called upon, at a highly critical time for the global and European economy, to draw up a new economic and political strategy not only for Germany but also for the EU/Eurozone. The outcome will…

October 30, 2021

Sources

While a group of statisticians recently found the 2020 US Census to be free of major errors, many were concerned about the census' ability to accurately reflect the population given its coincidence with the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The debate shed light on the…

October 23, 2021

Sources

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 19, 2021

Analysis

Gas and Labor

The UK‘s petrol shortage is also a labor shortage driven by worsening conditions of work

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a protracted crisis in the supply of petrol. In the face of a plummeting sterling and severe disruptions to essential public services, military tanker drivers have been deployed to transport fuel to…

October 16, 2021

Sources

Both consumers and businesses have felt the effects of ongoing backlogs in global supply chains. The world's largest retailers have been integral in shaping these supply chains, especially in the global South, where changing patterns of consumption have been met…

October 9, 2021

Sources

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.

October 2, 2021

Sources

A rise in deportations of Haitian immigrants at the US-Mexico border has brought another cycle of media attention to the US immigration system and border security apparatus.

September 25, 2021

Sources

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 18, 2021

Sources

This week, millions in California voted in support of Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election. California is one of 19 states that grants power to voters to recall a sitting governor, a law which was passed in 1911 as…

September 11, 2021

Sources

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.

September 4, 2021

Sources

Haiti won independence from France in 1804, but in return for recognizing its formerly enslaved colony, France later forced Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs and give preferential treatment to French exports. The debt was equivalent to…

August 28, 2021

Sources

Earlier this year, global carbon markets were valued at a record breaking $277 billion. The number contrasts strikingly with this summer's wave of devastating fires, many of which proliferated precisely in protected forests designed to offset carbon emissions from other…

August 21, 2021

Sources

Observers in the past decades have commented on increased urbanization in India, which has led to new challenges for development, housing, and labor. But the majority of India's population, and thus electoral power, remains in rural regions.

August 14, 2021

Sources

75 percent of US firms currently make use of non-disclosure agreements. Originally developed to protect trade secrets, today's agreements have expanded to include information on salaries, skills, client lists, and employment practices.

August 7, 2021

Sources

This week, the Mexican government sued eleven major US arms manufacturers, alleging that they facilitated the illegal flow of guns into the country. The proliferation of US-manufactured guns in Mexico during recent years has been well-documented, but their presence precedes…

July 31, 2021

Sources

MICRO-STRATEGY Accounts of major historical shifts tend to treat states as unified actors responding to external incentives. In a new article, INGA RADEMACHER complicates this assumption. Drawing on archival documents from the German Federal Cabinet and Bundesbank Council from 1960-1981,…

July 24, 2021

Sources

Structures of unfree labor have always been at the edge of current and historical discourse on labor, mobility and caste in South Asia. This has been in focus during the COVID-led migrant crisis in India, where around 11.4 million migrant…

July 20, 2021

Analysis

Path Persistence

Global trade hierarchies across two eras of globalization

What is the legacy of the First Globalization of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries on the economic fortunes of countries during the Second Globalization? To what extent have countries’ positions in the international economic order been persistent across the…

July 17, 2021

Sources

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.

July 10, 2021

Sources

Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on Wednesday, plunging the country into greater political unrest following months of protests around Moïse's controversial decision to rule by decree.

July 8, 2021

Phenomenal Works

In his new book, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities, Davarian Baldwin identifies an “increasingly parasitic” relationship between universities and the cities they occupy.

July 3, 2021

Sources

The impending retreat of US troops from Afghanistan has brought renewed discussion on Pakistan amidst both US and Chinese alliances. Much of the scholarship on Pakistan centers around its military and foreign policy, but less attention has been given to…

June 26, 2021

Sources

Since the 2000 World Water Forum in The Hague, governance over water resources has gained salience in international development discourse. The allocation of rights (to technology and decisionmaking) and resources (both financial and natural) has shaped local economies in the…

June 19, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, global leaders at the G7 summit signed a "green belt and road initiative," which offers funds to low income countries for sustainable investment.

June 12, 2021

Sources

former congresswoman and daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. The contest has revealed deep polarization in the country between social movements opposed to foreign investment and those who favored market liberalization that has defined Peruvian politics since the 1990s.

June 5, 2021

Sources

This week marked the 640th anniversary of the 1381 Great Rising, a rebellion which swept across medieval England demanding an end to serfdom and an overhaul of the legal system and the aristocracy.

May 29, 2021

Sources

Though the US economy remains about 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels, employers and commentators have begun to express fears over a reduction in the labor supply, prompting debates over the possible causes of this shortage.

May 22, 2021

Sources

Recent events in Gaza and Colombia have led to calls for the conditioning of foreign aid—a controversial but longstanding element of the US foreign policy toolkit for pursuing economic and political aims abroad.

May 15, 2021

Sources

Use of the most recent government stimulus varied by income, with richer households saving the money and poorer ones using it to pay off debt.

May 8, 2021

Sources

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 4, 2021

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Laleh Khalili

On Winona LaDuke and Deborah Cowen's argument for decolonizing infrastructure.

“What if infrastructure is designed, financed and adopted into the habits of everyday lives of its users in such a way that it is not a harbinger of apocalypse?” In a recent essay, Laleh Khalili notes a key dilemma of…

May 1, 2021

Sources

Millions of workers in global supply chains have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

April 24, 2021

Sources

The US government spends upwards of $20 billion annually on domestic agricultural support programs, but with over 20 percent of farm products exported, these programs interact with trade policies that have fluctuated in the last century between protectionism and liberalization.

April 17, 2021

Sources

In January 2021, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans to build ‘The Line’, a $/500bn futuristic 170km carbon-free city strip in Neom destined to be fully automated, fueled by clean energy, linked to neighboring Jordan and…

April 10, 2021

Sources

Amid the global Covid-19 vaccination campaign, a debate has emerged around intellectual property (IP) and stark inequalities in vaccine distribution. Wealthier nations have opposed a petition to waive the 1995 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which imposes…

April 3, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, the blockage of the Suez Canal by the giant Ever Given container ship prompted renewed discussions on the weakness of our supply chain infrastructure, the future of globalization, and the region's colonial past.

April 2, 2021

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Ho-fung Hung

Rereading Imperialism for twenty-first century tensions

Ho-fung Hung investigates the role of economic development in state formation and global power, with a specific focus on China and East Asia.

March 27, 2021

Sources

Frequent mass shootings and recurring political struggle over gun control measures are uniquely American social phenomena.

March 20, 2021

Sources

Debates concerning the relative role of structure versus agency in explaining social phenomena has endured for decades. Drawing parallels between the teleology of nineteenth century approaches and more modern, variable-oriented research methods, historian WILLIAM SEWELL JR's 2005 book reflects on…

March 13, 2021

Sources

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention to the underfunding of US public health infrastructure over the last several decades. Alongside a fragmented system, a gap has emerged between public health and clinical care, with consequences for the public.

March 6, 2021

Sources

Deindustrialization is a key orienting point for research in political economy. But around the world, factory production remains significant, with employment in industry constituting between one-fifth and one-third of total employment in large economies.

February 27, 2021

Sources

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 20, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, millions of households lost power in the face of a powerful snowstorm. While these numbers are unusual, they are not new—the US suffers among the most frequent power outages of any industrialized country, concentrated especially in rural…

February 13, 2021

Sources

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…

February 6, 2021

Sources

While the neoliberal era appears to be in crisis, we took on a project to investigate its historical foundations. The tensions of the current political moment are commonly traced to the financial deregulation and economic liberalization of the 1980s and…

January 30, 2021

Sources

Next week marks the launching of our first book-length Phenomenal World publication: Market Economy, Market Society: Interviews and Essays on the Decline of European Social Democracy. The book examines the fracturing of the social democratic consensus through the eyes of…

January 23, 2021

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Outside of Brazil, the Bolsa Familia is known as the hallmark social policy of the former President Lula and remains the world's largest conditional cash transfer program. Less well known is the history of Brazil's social policy in the early…

January 16, 2021

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The simultaneous integration of global markets and decentralization of government within nation states has been a hallmark of the age of globalization. In a 2004 article, NEIL BRENNER looks to Europe to argue that through processes of decentralization and localization,…

January 9, 2021

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The deep divisions in American political and social life have long been thought to explain the unique weakness of America’s welfare infrastructure, and the absence of an integrated system of universal benefits. But on their own, demographic divisions need not…

December 19, 2020

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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…

December 12, 2020

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Between 1940 and 1990, housing growth in the United States outpaced population growth by 173 to 88 percent, and the proportion of homeowners nearly doubled. The same trend is observable internationally, and scholarly debate weighs whether demographic shifts or policy…

December 5, 2020

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This year's turbulent oil market, in combination with the Covid-19 pandemic, has threatened the financial outlook of several Latin American nations. With many governments dependent on oil revenues, the issues of public ownership of the oil sector and financial liberalization…

November 21, 2020

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Recent studies estimate approximately 60% of the world's population earns their wages in the informal economy. Focusing on the prevalence of informal work across Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, analysts frequently advocate for a transition to the formal economy…

November 14, 2020

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The conclusion of the United States election has prompted a resurgence of commentaries on the state's role in markets. By focusing on the state's capacity to shape and alter market structure, these discussions build on a longstanding academic tradition which…

November 7, 2020

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With Covid-19 cases again rising around the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has faced increased scrutiny from governments on its handling of the early pandemic. Today, the organization plays a key role in defining global public health and coordinating…

October 31, 2020

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The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has sparked ongoing debates over the institution's merits and relationship to American democracy. Among liberal democracies, the United States stands apart in the strength and autonomy of its judiciary. A…

October 24, 2020

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India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has dominated Indian politics in the past decade, upending the country's long-standing Congress Party rule at the national level and competing with regional and ethnic parties in state elections.…

October 17, 2020

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Explanations for the absence of a universal healthcare program in the United States tend to focus on the obstructive role of the American Medical Association, which, via an extensive lobbying campaign, prevented the passage of a national health insurance plan…

October 10, 2020

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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…

October 3, 2020

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Recent weeks have seen proliferating analyses of the constitutional infrastructure of the US, and speculation over its ability to hinder the behaviors of a disruptive incumbent. New concerns reflect longstanding apprehension over the stability of presidential regimes.

September 28, 2020

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It is well known that the share of the global labor force working in services has risen precipitously over the past several decades, with nearly half of all workers around the globe now counted in the service sector. Scholarly work…

September 19, 2020

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Since the first export processing zone was established in Puerto Rico during the 1940s, special economic zones (SEZs) have proliferated to number 5,400 across 147 countries and employ more than 100 million workers. While the zones have been lauded for…

September 12, 2020

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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…

September 5, 2020

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In addition to straining America's existing welfare infrastructure, the pandemic has fundamentally altered labor markets and generated a wide range of new social needs. Policy responses to these changing circumstances have the potential to shape the trajectory of US inequality…

August 31, 2020

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The compound risks of climate catastrophe and Covid-19 have defined the year thus far. As the world continues to reel from the effects of the pandemic, and storms and wildfires dot the map, calls for marshaling a green recovery have…

August 25, 2020

Sources

Covid is accelerating the transition away from cash and encouraging the development of state-backed digital currencies. In the past two weeks, the People's Bank of China launched a trial run for digital renminbis in three major cities, and the Boston…

August 13, 2020

Reviews

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 10, 2020

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It's been over a week since Congress allowed the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation scheme to lapse, and negotiations over an extension have reached a gridlock. But even prior to its end, access to the enhanced benefit was far from equal…

August 3, 2020

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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 27, 2020

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Catastrophic deficiencies in the federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to renewed discussion over federalism and its discontents. The divergence among state responses to the crisis in the absence of federal guidance has produced analyses of Trump’s unique,…

July 20, 2020

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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 13, 2020

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Michael Mann's four volume magnum opus, The Sources of Social Power, analyzes the history of human societies from antiquity to the present. Theoretically, the work's major contribution is the so-called IEMP model, which examines historical shifts through the relations between…

July 6, 2020

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Historically, the expansion of the American frontier symbolized a unity between political liberty and economic growth, at the same time as it justified the violent expropriation that continues to define the country's racial and distributional politics.

June 24, 2020

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LABOR In her 2007 book, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt, sociologist CHING KWAN LEE paints an intricate portrait of the two segments of the Chinese working class that have most acutely experienced the country's changing…

June 18, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Mehrsa Baradaran

Banking between states and markets

Mehrsa Baradaran is a Professor of Law at UC Irvine. Her research situates the American banking system within a dense network of legal, historical, and political relationships.

June 15, 2020

Sources

As debate and discussion continues over reforms to US policing, attention has been drawn to the share of municipal and state budgets dedicated to police departments. While a useful proxy of governmental priorities, these budgets only tell part of the…

June 8, 2020

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As commentators and policymakers have scrambled to find explanations for and responses to the unprecedented uprisings against police brutality across the United States, interest in the role of police unions in local politics has soared. Recent research into the question…

June 2, 2020

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This week has seen policymakers, scholars, and the public debate the meaning of collective violence. While political and media discourse often fails to examine the long-term effects of social unrest, a vast literature grapples with the mechanisms that link protests…

May 26, 2020

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Analyses of variation in state-level responses to the coronavirus tend to focus on party determination: On the whole, states led by Democrats have been found to undertake more rapid and extensive responses to the crisis. The focus on immediate political…

May 19, 2020

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Among the many corona-induced shocks rippling through the global economy is the crash in remittance payments to developing countries. The World Bank predicts that remittance flows will fall 20% this year—a decline of $100b—largely as a result of shutdowns and…

May 12, 2020

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Covid is changing popular attitudes towards the public sector, prompting many commentators to anticipate a new period of welfare expansion. Others are more skeptical, noting that public opinion undergoes rapid fluctuations, which rarely resolve into a new equilibrium.

May 4, 2020

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Following the comparative success of South Korea and Singapore to flatten the Covid-19 curve, governments around the world have been discussing the merits and feasibility of tech-aided contact tracing systems. (Whether these comparative public health successes are actually attributable to…

April 28, 2020

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It's been a turbulent week for the US Postal Service. With revenues plummeting as mail volume drops, the Postal Worker's Union leader recently estimated that the service is likely to literally "run out of money" by October. The crisis has…

April 21, 2020

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Among the diverse local and national policy responses undertaken to combat the pandemic in recent months, Kerala's has been notable. Within the broader context of Indian economic development, Kerala's government has a tradition of successful redistributive development policies, sometimes referred…

April 13, 2020

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Scholars of the global food system unravel a vast web linking trade policy, public health, economic development, labor issues, supply chain logistics, and so on. The pandemic has already prompted states to break with the implicit rules underpinning global food…

April 7, 2020

Sources

Comparisons of responses to the Covid-19 crisis across national lines yield as many questions as answers. Divergent histories of public health programs, differences in cultural norms, population density, age distributions, and internal migration patterns create a muddy picture for causal…

April 3, 2020

Analysis

Crisis and Recovery

The underlying problems in the US economy

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report hardly registers the cataclysm in the US job market. The sharp 0.9 percent uptick in unemployment—itself newsworthy—only grasps the very beginnings of the shutdown of the American economy.

March 31, 2020

Sources

The need to formulate a unified COVID response has placed pressure on European integration in recent days, with Germany and the Netherlands resisting Southern European calls for the issuing of "coronabonds." A 2018 paper by John Ryan and John Loughlin…

March 25, 2020

Analysis

The First Services Recession

The shape of the Covid-19 recession

It is hard to see how the United States can avoid a recession. Unemployment insurance claims have already surged, and this week's numbers look to be in the millions.

March 25, 2020

Sources

This week, reports swirled regarding President Trump's invocation of the Defense Production Act—a 1950 law passed to manage production in the context of the Korean War—to meet the coming demand of crucial medical supplies to treat people with COVID-19. Much…

March 16, 2020

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At present it's difficult to think of much else beyond the fragility of our global economic infrastructure. A 2012 discussion paper by RICHARD BALDWIN looks at global supply chains: their history, future, and policy implications.

March 9, 2020

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The correlation between health, income, and wealth is widely recognized in contemporary research and policy circles. This broadly social understanding of public health outcomes has its origins in a theoretical tradition dating back to the 1970s and 80s, in which…

March 6, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Nathan Lane

History, empirics, and industrial policy

Nathan Lane is an economist working on political economy, development, and economic history.

March 2, 2020

Sources

Over the past two decades, "evidence-based policy" has come to define the common sense of research and policymakers around the world. But while attempts have been made to create formalization schemes for the ranking of evidence for policy, a gulf…

February 24, 2020

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Of the various issues mired in severe and ongoing party polarization, climate crisis is among the most puzzling. Despite longstanding discussions of bipartisan market-based policy proposals like carbon taxes and cap and trade, large-scale government and industry action remains elusive.

February 20, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Mark Blyth

On growth models, supply chains, and dollar hegemony

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 state level economic actors shape ideological consensus and…

February 18, 2020

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In an employer-sponsored healthcare system like that of the United States, deteriorating labor market protections have immediate consequences for access to healthcare. Democratic primary candidates have presented a number of proposals to address declining rates of insurance, ranging in degrees…

February 10, 2020

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Standard theories of development have been predicated on the goal of an industrialized economy with the potential for full and regularized employment. Such a view necessitates a host of statistical categories to define and measure labor markets. In a 2000…

February 3, 2020

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Sample size does more than determine the sort of methodology appropriate for a given study; theorists of social science have long pointed out that the number of case studies considered determines the sorts of questions researchers can analyze and the…

January 27, 2020

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Deindustrialization is a global phenomenon taking place more rapidly in middle- income countries than in high-income ones. Despite the global decline of manufacturing employment, "industrial policy" is increasingly salient in research and policy debates. But deindustrialization poses significant challenges for…

January 21, 2020

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Despite contributing towards a series of crises (from the third world debt crisis of the 80s to the Euro-crisis of 2010), sovereign debt is rising across low-, middle-, and high-income economies, leading to renewed discussions around the macroeconomic consequences of…

January 13, 2020

Sources

Researchers of policy history have long deliberated over explanatory frameworks: institutionalist accounts tend to focus on inherited conditions and path dependency in political development, while others stress the importance of social movements in shaping policy. Among the more dynamic analytical…

January 9, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Alice Evans

Four books and papers on the 'despondency trap'

Alice Evans is a Lecturer in the Social Science of International Development at King's College London, and a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Kennedy School. She is writing a book on “The Great Gender Divergence”, which explores why European countries rapidly…

January 6, 2020

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Foundational to the discipline of international relations, historian E. H. Carr's path-breaking book Twenty Years' Crisis was the first to systematically assess the (then-emerging) field as consisting of 'realist' and 'idealist' approaches. Published in 1939, the book carefully outlines the…

December 16, 2019

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The recent boom in identifying and measuring monopsony in labor markets has brought the question of employers' wage-setting power to the fore of various academic and policy debates. (For an overview, see our blog post by Owen Davis from earlier…

December 9, 2019

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Like many systems of social provision—from housing to pensions—American education has become increasingly financialized. In a recent paper, Charlie Eaton, Jacob Habinek, Adam Goldstein, Cyrus Dioun, Daniela García Santibáñez Godoy, and Robert Osley-Thomas consider the scope and consequences of financialization…

November 28, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

On unions, advocacy, and influence

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is a political scientist who studies the mechanisms of influence. Focusing on the strategies of organized interests, including both business and labor, Hertel-Fernandez's helps illuminate crucial and poorly understood levers of American political economy.

November 25, 2019

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In recent decades, policy approaches to housing provision have focused on increasing the incomes of subsidy recipients and, due to declining federal investment, promoting tenant mobility both between subsidized housing units and out of the public housing system altogether. But…

November 18, 2019

Sources

Major accounts of the role of the state in economic development have held that the state is essential for ensuring private property rights—that democratic checks and balances encourage investment and therefore economic growth. Other schools of development stress the importance…

November 14, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Beth Popp Berman

On knowledge, institutions, and social policy

Beth Popp Berman is sociologist whose research focuses on the history of knowledge, organizations and public policy making.

November 12, 2019

Sources

In addition to lagging behind many European economies in the breadth, amount, and quality of welfare provision, the United States also exhibits relatively low rates of take-up among the benefits it does make available. Non-take-up rates can be accounted for—at…

October 31, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Leah Stokes

Networks of climate denial

Leah Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Santa Barbara. Her research spans representation and public opinion, voting behavior, and environmental and energy politics. ways forward in the climate crisis. Below, her…

October 28, 2019

Sources

Tax reform is at the forefront of contemporary policy debate. US citizens pay taxes at lower rates than their European counterparts, and a growing number of researchers agree that progressive taxes on wealth and income have the potential to rectify…

October 15, 2019

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As student debt grows and the labor market stagnates, a growing body of research seeks to answer questions about the worthiness of college. What characterizes the schools and populations for whom college is worth it? What does worthiness mean—financial, intellectual,…

October 7, 2019

Sources

Breathless media coverage of machine learning tools and their applications often obscures the processes that allow them to function. Time and again, services billed or understood by users as automatic are revealed to rely on undervalued, deskilled human labor.

September 30, 2019

Sources

In his 1990 book, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (TWWC), sociologist Gosta Esping-Andersen identified three categories of European welfare regimes: liberal, conservative, and social democratic. In Esping-Andersen's account, these welfare regimes developed according to the sorts of coalitions formed…

September 23, 2019

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Recent years have seen a surge in scholarship that critically evaluates the origins and impact of the law and economics movement. Out of the many theoretical bedrocks of the movement, the Coase Theorem is one of the most significant. Stemming…

September 16, 2019

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Two weeks ago today marked the passing of the great Immanual Wallerstein. His work has had resounding influence across fields: from literature, to legal theory, education, development studies, and international relations. Among his foremost contributions is the four volume Modern…

September 9, 2019

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While the thorny ethical questions dogging the development and implementation of algorithmic decision systems touch on all manner of social phenomena, arguably the most widely discussed is that of racial discrimination. The watershed moment for the algorithmic ethics conversation was…

September 3, 2019

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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…

August 26, 2019

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Without any “evidence of fraud, malfeasance or deliberate deception or manipulation,” or any promotion of inaccurate views, how can bias enter a scientific assessment? In their new book, Discerning Experts, Michael Oppenheimer, Naomi Oreskes, Dale Jamieson, et al explore the…

August 19, 2019

Sources

The role of labor (with some notable exceptions) has been relatively marginal in debates over how to decarbonize the economy. But given the growing number of clean energy jobs (and some recent labor news), it is reasonable to predict that…

August 12, 2019

Sources

The emergence of companies like Uber and Taskrabbit has prompted commentators across legal, economic, and policy research spheres to pronounce the beginning of a new era of work, marked by the prevalence of technologically mediated casual work arrangements.

August 5, 2019

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Technology companies are coming under increased scrutiny for the ethical consequences of their work, and some have formed advisory boards or hired ethicists on staff. (Google's AI ethics board quickly disintegrated.) Another approach is to train computer scientists in ethics…

July 29, 2019

Sources

Many recent policy proposals are variations on European programs implemented throughout the twentieth century. Despite their marked diversity, European welfare states share a foundation of social protections largely responsible for their lower rates of inequality. Theories on the development of…

July 22, 2019

Sources

At the Phenomenal World, we have been publishing pieces covering a wide-range of topics, many of which are common ground in this newsletter. Below, in no particular order, is a round-up of some recent work in case you missed it.

July 15, 2019

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Beyond growing calls for welfare expansion and a more progressive tax system, recent policy debates have begun to consider alternative models of firm ownership. Last year, the UK Labour party published a report outlining a path towards a more diverse…

July 8, 2019

Sources

Higher education is widely understood to be a major driver of intergenerational mobility in the United States. Despite the clear (and growing) inequalities between and within colleges, it remains the case that higher education reduces the impact that parental class…

July 1, 2019

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How can evidence inform the decisions of policymakers? What value do policymakers ascribe to academic research? In January, we highlighted Yale's Evidence in Practice project, which emphasizes the divergence between policymakers' needs and researchers' goals. Other work describes the complexity…

June 24, 2019

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In past newsletters, we have highlighted research and policy proposals relating to the Green New Deal and the literature surrounding "degrowth"—the idea that the growth imperative is at odds with human flourishing. In a recent exchange, economist Robert Pollin debates…

June 17, 2019

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Debates over the relevance of indicators like GDP for assessing the health of domestic economies are persistent and growing. Critics of such measures point to the failures of such measures to holistically capture societal wellbeing, and argue in favor of…

June 10, 2019

Sources

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…

June 3, 2019

Sources

Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State and Democratic presidential candidate, has made climate policy the center of his longer-than-long-shot campaign. On May 3rd, he released 8 pages of goals, and on May 16th, he released the 35-page, 28-policy “Evergreen…

May 28, 2019

Sources

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the country's largest anti-poverty program. In 2018, over 20 million filers received $63 billion in EITC refunds. Because of its bipartisan popularity and its secure position in the tax code, with no distinct…

May 20, 2019

Sources

Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 permits certain postsecondary institutions to be eligible for federal financial aid funds. A wide variety of programs are Title IV eligible: public, private, for-profit, vocational. Yet there are also a vast…

May 13, 2019

Sources

As economies across Europe and in the United States have become more knowledge-based, urban-centered, and tech-driven, people in manufacturing reliant regions have seen declining life expectancies, stagnating real incomes, and minimal job growth.

May 6, 2019

Sources

April 20, 2019

Sources

April 13, 2019

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Current UBI discussions emerged out of concerns over the role of human beings in a machine-dominated labor market. In 2013, a paper by Oxford University professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne claimed that 47% of US jobs were at…

April 6, 2019

Sources

The most visible discourse on universal basic income focuses squarely on the labor market. Unconditional cash transfers are understood above all as a potential policy solution to wage stagnation, rising inequality, and labor displacement. This framework, which responds to rising…

March 30, 2019

Sources

Public research universities have long been understood as engines of meritocratic social mobility. Relative to other higher ed institutions, public universities remain those with the highest mobility rates. But research over the past decade has shown that these institutions are…

March 23, 2019

Sources

There is renewed debate around the merits of protectionism and free trade, spurred by political rhetoric from the left and right in the US, and in Europe and Latin America. Active disagreements over the consequences of free trade date back…

March 16, 2019

Sources

Research surrounding student debt and the labor market value of postsecondary degrees focuses primarily on students obtaining a 4-year degree, secondarily on students receiving a 2-year degree, and only rarely considers students in certificate programs—non-degree awards that are cheaper and…

March 9, 2019

Sources

In the digital ethics literature, there's a consistent back-and-forth between attempts at designing algorithmic tools that promote fair outcomes in decision-making processes, and critiques that enumerate the limits of such attempts. A December paper by ANDREW SELBST, dana boyd, SORELLE…

March 2, 2019

Sources

Household debt has proliferated in the past decade. In the final quarter of 2018, it reached $13.54 trillion—an $869 billion increase since the previous peak in 2008 and a 21.4% increase since the post-crisis trough. While it is now widely…

February 23, 2019

Sources

More than a decade after the financial crisis of 2008, median household incomes have stagnated at their pre-2008 levels, and global economic growth is expected to decline further from what is already a historic low. While the unemployment rate has…

February 16, 2019

Sources

In recent weeks, a familiar debate over how we understand the global poverty rate across time reappeared in mainstream op-ed pages. Sparked initially by Bill Gates tweeting out an infographic produced by Our World in Data—which visualizes massive decreases (94%…

February 9, 2019

Sources

This week, we delve into the persisting inequalities of our higher education system. Since Winston, Hill, and Boyd found that only 10% of students at elite universities came from families who fell within the bottom 40% of the income distribution…

February 2, 2019

Sources

In the ever expanding digital ethics literature, a number of researchers have been advocating a turn away from enticing technical questions—how to mathematically define fairness, for example—and towards a more expansive, foundational approach to the ethics of designing digital decision…

January 26, 2019

Sources

A new paper from the Center for Effective Global Action at Berkeley surveys a topic important to our researchers here at JFI: the question of long-run effects of interventions. In our literature review of cash transfer studies, we identified the…

January 19, 2019

Sources

In a recent newsletter, we noted a spate of reporting drawing attention to the authoritarianism of China's growing Social Credit System. This week, we are sharing a paper by YU-JIE CHEN, CHING-FU LIN, AND HAN-WEI LIU that casts light on…

January 12, 2019

Sources

In a report for the Berkman Klein center, Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier identify a gap in current approaches to cybersecurity. National cybersecurity officials still base their thinking on Cold War-type threats, where technologists focus on hackers. Combining both approaches,…

January 5, 2019

Sources

We’re beginning with a report from Evidence in Practice, a project from the Yale School of Management. The report focuses on how to integrate rigorously researched evidence with policy and practice, with an emphasis on international development. The needs numerous…

December 22, 2018

Sources

The JFI Letter has grown and morphed over the past twelve months; thank you to our readers for opening, skimming, clicking, and writing us every week. We'll be offline until January 5. In the meantime, here's a list of our…

October 18, 2018

Analysis

Machine Ethics, Part One: An Introduction and a Case Study

Artificial intelligence, ethics, and public health social work

The past few years have made abundantly clear that the artificially intelligent systems that organizations increasingly rely on to make important decisions can exhibit morally problematic behavior if not properly designed.