Why Isn’t The World Bank’s Choice of Chief Economist More Controversial?

This week it became clear that the World Bank has chosen Paul Romer as its next Chief Economist. As Chief Economist he’ll have the overall responsibility of the Bank’s research program and be able to shape the developments of the highly influential development institution. Commentators have named the choice of Chief Economist impressive, great, huge news, bold, and forward-thinking. The choice of World Bank Chief Economist rarely garners this much attention – so, why the fuss?

Continue reading “Why Isn’t The World Bank’s Choice of Chief Economist More Controversial?”

What’s Curiously Missing from the Wolfers Slides

Once again, the New Keynesians are cherry-picking from post-Keynesian and Marxian critiques of economic theory. This time the subject is macroeconomics – the whole thing. Justin Wolfers out of the University of Michigan recently posted a slideshow he presented at a lecture in celebration of former IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard. The contents are largely what has come out of the RRPE for the past 50 years with some key omissions.

Continue reading “What’s Curiously Missing from the Wolfers Slides”

The Anxiety of Economics

We live in especially anxious times. The past half-century has seen a decided turn away from public provisioning – a shift known as neoliberalism or the Washington consensus depending on what side of the Tropic of Cancer you live on.

Certainly this shift was primed by the simultaneous experience of the Cold War and decolonization which motivated a model of economic development that relied on private investment over government enterprise. While it would be convenient to tell this story as merely one of corporate rapaciousness seeking ever broader frontiers, it wouldn’t tell the whole story. The full story involves a shifting in the way economists view economic policy itself.

Katherine Moos, a PhD student at the NSSR & lecturer at Sarah Lawrence College, points to the Lucas Critique as the pivotal point in this turn away from policy. In her work-in-progress “The Transvaluation of Values,” Moos argues that this represented not merely a recalibration of fiscal management, but a philosophical anxiety about the possibility of good public policy itself.

Continue reading “The Anxiety of Economics”

Transcript: Comments on The Future of Capitalism

I will start this talk by explaining where I come from. My background is from Norway, a tiny country in the outskirts of Europe, where the struggle to stay outside of the EU has been fought from the left.

We fought against what we saw as a neoliberal project that would move our democracy to Brussels. With a coalition of farmers, unions and the political left — and against the will of the political elites and the main media — the Norwegian people said ‘no’ to the EU in two referendums, in 1972 and 1994.

So, in many ways, I was looking at the unfolding of the Greek crises from the outside.

Continue reading “Transcript: Comments on The Future of Capitalism”

Climate Change & Class War

This Thursday NSSR PhD student Julia Puaschunder gave the oikos lunch presentation with a talk called “Intergenerational Justice: Climate Change Burden Sharing,” which suggested the possibility of using bonds to fund mitigation and adaptation costs of climate change.

If we take as a given a trade-off between sustainability and growth, the problem of climate change can be presented as a zero-sum game to be played with our children: We may expend the earth now and leave our children with nothing, or we may bolt for asceticism and leave our children a plenitude.

Continue reading “Climate Change & Class War”

Is Development Possible In Capitalism?

Last Friday was the Debating Development conference, organized by the titular scholars of INET’s Young Scholars Initiative, a group coordinated by NSSR’s own Ingrid Kvangraven. The conference put many scholars of different regions and different theoretical perspectives in conversation. Although it was titled “debating development,” as NSSR economics professor Sanjay Reddy noted in his opening remarks, most of the perspectives presented were more intersecting than mutually exclusive, so the conference could also be understood as a means to compound or complexify perspectives, rather than adopt or discard them.

Continue reading “Is Development Possible In Capitalism?”

Coffee vs. Capital

On April 14th, Oikos NYC launched its first out of three lunch talks scheduled for the spring semester 2016 at The New School. In line with its mission, to enhance student’s engagement with sustainability in economics, the speaker, Christopher London who is Assistant Professor of International Affairs at Milano, discussed the issue of environmental sustainability of food production.

Continue reading “Coffee vs. Capital”

There’s No Migration Problem Amnesty Can’t Solve

On Wednesday, Branko Milanovic whose work deals mostly with quantifying global inequality wrote a piece about migration for the Financial Times. The piece, titled “There Is a Trade-Off Between Citizenship and Migration” bespeaks the many ways in which economists seek to improve world systems by adjusting its parameters rather than calling into question the structures which underlie them.

As the title suggests, Milanovic insists that there is a trade-off between the types of citizenship countries grant immigrants and the levels of migration those countries will see. Rather than treating such migration as a result of political and economic calamities that are disproportionately laid upon the global South by the forces of Western economic and military rapaciousness, he treats it almost as an economist might treat pollution – something generally socially undesirable, but only preventable in degree by manipulating property rights.

Taking for granted a trade-off between citizenship rights and migration, Milanovic proposes a system of graduated citizenship akin to the systems of the United States and the Arab Peninsula. Needless to say, Milanovic’s approach has already seen some push-back. Chris Bertram, writing for the blog Crooked Timber has already called Milanovic’s suggestion “reinventing apartheid.” And while it might be a tad bombastic to equate the visa system of the US or the sponsorship system of the GCC with the brutally repressive white nationalist regime of South African apartheid, Bertram does have a point that such systems create arbitrary legal gateways for brutal racial repression and a sort of ethnic caste system.

Continue reading “There’s No Migration Problem Amnesty Can’t Solve”