Following are the contents (with abstracts) of the latest issue of Forum for Social Economics (41/1, April 2012). (Note: This is also the first issue of the Forum to be published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis.)
SPECIAL ISSUE: POLITICAL ECONOMY, CRISIS AND DEVELOPMENT
GUEST EDITOR: DIMITRIS MILONAKIS
New Editorial Team, New Editorial Board, New Publisher, New Design, Wolfram Elsner, Phil O'Hara, Cecilia Winters, Paolo Ramazzotti, and Will Milberg -- FREE ACCESS HERE
Introduction by the Guest Editor of the Special Issue, Dimitris Milonakis
Marxist Theories of Crisis and the Current Economic Crisis, Thanasis Maniatis
This paper uses data from the US economy and finds that among Marxist theories of crisis the marxian law of the falling rate of profit as a result of the increasing composition of capital explains the crisis of the 1970s and the end of the “golden age” of capital accumulation. Despite the dramatic increase in the rate of surplus value and the limited fall in the capital-output ratio profitability has not recovered sufficiently during the neoliberal period due to the survival of lagging capitals and the increasing use of unproductive labor. Financialization is one of the effects of low profitability. In the recent years financial bubbles the associated wealth effects and the significant increase in the debt of all domestic sectors raised aggregate demand and provided the stimulus for the anemic growth of the period. The break of the bubbles implies the return to the weak fundamentals of the real economy and possibly a deep and prolonged period of stagnation and crisis.
Emil Lederer’s Theory of Economic Fluctuations and the Role of Financial Institutions, Angelos T. Vouldis, Panayotis G. Michaelides, and John G. Milios
Emil Lederer was characterized as the “leading academic socialist of Germany in the 1920’s” by Joseph Schumpeter and was a highly respected economist of his time. However, most aspects of his work remain totally unexplored. This paper focuses on Emil Lederer’s theory of economic fluctuations defending the thesis that certain aspects of Lederer’s conceptualization of economic fluctuations underwent considerable modifications when his 1925 article Konjunktur und Krisen is compared with his 1938 book Technical Progress and Unemployment, a shift unacknowledged so far in the literature. In his first attempt to tackle the issue, in Konjunktur und Krisen (1925), Lederer had constructed an explanation consistent with the so-called “disproportionality theory” introduced by Tugan-Baranowsky (codified as “early Lederer”). However, Lederer’s conception of the business cycle during the 1930s and especially in his major work Technical Progress and Unemployment underwent considerable modifications. Lederer’s (1938) analysis is, apparently, very ‘Schumpeterian’ (codified as “late Lederer”). In this version of his theory, the cycle is explained by supply-side factors, and more specifically by technical change. Additionally, Lederer’s view on the role of financial institutions (credit and banks) with regards to business cycles is analysed. Lederer avoided attributing a causative role to monetary factors. The interrelation between ‘real’ factors and financial institutions constitutes an essential element in his analysis of the business cycle.
Until the emergence of the New Economics of Labor Migration (NELM) in the 1980s, migration scholars were largely divided into two main theoretical camps, viz. the neoclassical and historical-structural approaches to migration. Against this background, the NELM presented itself as a theoretical ‘third way’ between the two latter approaches, and purported to reconcile agency and structure in a way previously unachieved by either of them. While those pretensions gained a fair amount of acceptance and popularity, this paper argues that they are fundamentally misleading, and that the NELM is little more than a slightly more sophisticated avatar of the neoclassical approach to migration, whose fundamental weaknesses it has not, and cannot, shed. This paper further argues that, in so doing, the NELM effectively constitutes migration theory's own instance of economics imperialism, i.e. the attempt to advance the fundamental tenets of neoclassical economics (methodological individualism and the assumption of optimizing rationality) within the context of the study and interpretation of various social phenomena. In order to put forth these arguments, this paper provides a summary presentation of the standard neoclassical theory of migration, the historical-structural heterodoxy and the NELM; highlights why it is that the NELM should be regarded as a ‘reworked’ version of the neoclassical theoretical framework and discusses its inception in the context of the ‘information-theoretic revolution’ in economics; and argues for a new and improved ‘historical-structural synthesis’ as a more satisfactory alternative to both the NELM and the standard neoclassical theory.
Recent years have witnessed a process of integration of the Indian Union within the new international economic order, characterised by the ascendance of neoliberalism. Orissa, historically one of the Indian states mostly affected by severe poverty and economic stagnation though richly endowed with natural resources, has enthusiastically endorsed the neo-liberal project, implementing all the relevant national policies related to it. In the last 15 years, while the economic policy of the State of Orissa has been thus increasingly shaped according to the neoliberal guidelines recommended by the Centre, the disturbing socio-economic scenario of the State has not changed significantly. This paper aims to highlight how specific power relations in the State of Orissa are reproducing themselves in the course of the transition of the Indian Union towards the neoliberal order. This paper aims to consider as an example of this process the privatisation policies in the mining sector, namely the main economic sector of Orissa. Moving from the fundamental role historically played by Orissa within the Indian Union as a supplier of raw materials to the pan-Indian market, the paper intends to highlight the rentier character of the Orissan dominant class, traditionally capable of performing a basic intermediary function in the provision of raw materials to the Indian market. Once taken into account the socio-economic role historically played by the local dominant class in Orissa within the context of the wider capitalist dynamics at work at the all-Indian level, the paper will focus on the scenario which came into being since the start of the neoliberal economic reforms in 1991. The major shifts in the mineral policy at the central level since 1991 will be taken into account and, within this context, the implementation of privatisation policy in the mineral sector in Orissa will be analysed, with special reference its socio-economic implications. The paper aims to highlight the way in which the State of Orissa has broadened its traditional role, becoming an important supplier of raw material not only to the all-Indian market, but to the international market in general. It will be argued as well that, in continuity with the past, the intermediary function of the local dominant class in this process has remained fundamental. Therefore the paper aims to argue that the current scenario supports the proposition that the unfolding of neoliberal dynamics in Orissa opened the way for the creation of new spaces of social reproduction for the local dominant class and, with them, for the reproduction of old relations of power and social domination in the State.
This paper makes a critical intervention to on-going theoretical and policy debates in the economic analysis of labour market institutions (LMIs) in the context of recent debates in India. It focuses on the internal inconsistency of mainstream economic analyses of LMIs, in particular those based on the new institutional economics (NIE) approach, and what appears to be an emerging policy consensus on LMIs within the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The paper draws out the possible ideological parallels in these two developments, despite different intellectual origins and intentions of those engaged in these debates. A corresponding modification in policy debates in India is observed in the shifting perspectives from the Second National Commission on Labour (SNCL) to the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS). The apparent emerging consensus in both the theoretical literature and policy debates reveals the tendency for researchers to focus on labour market outcomes and phenomenal forms of LMIs rather than the structures, processes, agencies and relations that underpin them. While this can be seen as an advancement from the traditional distortionist-institutionalist dichotomy, the tendency of this consensus to explain the persistence of seemingly inefficient institutions within the micro-level choice theoretic framework and its appeal to policy agendas on good governance, social capital, trust and civil society, render it vulnerable to appropriation by the mainstream. The paper argues that the emerging consensus on LMIs is an inadequate framework to inform effective policy propositions, and highlights the scope and opportunity for a political economy alternative.