Globalisation, Brexit and Rodrik’s political trilemma

From Brexit to trade wars, the advance of globalisation has not had a great few years. Hoping for a bit of enlightenment to counter the political rhetoric we are so often exposed to, I thought I would turn to Dani Rodrik’s 2011 book The Globalisation Paradox: why global markets, states and democracy can’t coexist.

At the core of Rodrik’s theoretical contribution in the book is what he calls his ‘political trilemma’ in relation to globalisation and politics: the impossibility of combining hyperglobalisation, democratic politics and the nation state or national sovereignty. In this reading, one country can combine any two of the three, but not all three at once.

Thus, under the postwar Bretton Woods compromise, countries were able to combine democracy and national sovereignty with moderate globalisation. Trade in goods between the richer capitalist nations became gradually more free during the 1950s and 60s, while there were restrictions on global capital flows and fixed but adjustable exchange rates, freeing up monetary policy to target growth in aggregate demand to support full employment. Continue reading

What happens when economics doesn’t reflect the real world?

A nice interview with Anwar Shaikh of the New School for Social Research, whose magnum opus, Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises was published in 2016. In this video he outlines the basics of his framework as developed in the book. He describes his approach as being part of political economy, with the social and the economic inextricably connected.

Shaikh cites as his main intellectual influences Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. He argues that it is profitability that is the prime motivation for economic activity under capitalism. This idea underpins his theoretical approaches to growth, unemployment, inflation, money, prices, international trade, finance and so on.

He emphasises the importance of balancing theory with empirical evidence. He also makes a strong case for his theory of ‘real competition’, which he describes as akin to a war, as opposed to perfect or imperfect competition.

Geoff Harcourt on Keynesian theory

In this enlightening video, Professor Geoff Harcourt, who was a distinguished pupil and colleague of Joan Robinson at Cambridge University, discusses a range of issues in Keynesian and post-Keynesian economics.

He covers the need for pluralism in economics; his definition of post-Keynesianism; the work of some of its key protagonists; uncertainty and its impact on business and the economy; the capital theory debates; and finally his vision for analysing a modern capitalist economy, and his most enduring intellectual influences.