The Pope, Quincy Jones, Bono, Willie Colón – and the burden of sovereign debt.

The Pope, Quincy Jones, Bono, Willie Colón – and the burden of sovereign debt.

It was the 23 September, 1999. I was at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer retreat in a village outside Rome, and was leading a delegation whose purpose was to urge the Pope to use his influence to pressure world leaders. The demand was that the G8 cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest countries – by the millennium. It was an extraordinary delegation. ..

The non-existence of society and the ideology of neoclassical economics

In the UK we face the imminent likelihood of an election in which the political choices before voters will be in clear focus, remaining within the European Union or leaving (perhaps under disastrous conditions); social democracy or deregulated capitalism; saving the environment or further destruction of it; parliamentary democracy or authoritarianism. In the context of these momentous decisions, we should reflect on a still famous statement by a past prime minister, “There is no such thing as society”.

The End of Super Imperialism?

With intensifying concerns regarding the soundness and stability of the international monetary and financial system, calls for reforming it have been on the rise. One recent call was made by the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, in August 2019, in which he suggested a ‘synthetic hegemonic currency’ to replace the US dollar as the key reserve currency. Whether such calls will lead to an end of the key reserve currency status of the dollar remains to be seen.

How the sexist ‘Nobel Prize’ in economics has warped the world

How the sexist ‘Nobel Prize’ in economics has warped the world

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics will be 50 years old next month. One thing unites all its winners, bar one: they have all been male.

This is not just an affront to equality. In overlooking brilliant female economists, the Swedish Central Bank’s Nobel has neglected economic theory which could have helped prevent the turmoil of regular financial shocks and political trauma.

The outstanding female economists passed over by the Nobel Foundation have often understood the social nature of money and credit as a social construct more profoundly than male economists crowding the world stage. And yet, they have rarely been recognised, never mind celebrated. That must change.

Balance of Power: The Economic Consequences of the Peace at 100

Balance of Power: The Economic Consequences of the Peace at 100

My review of John Maynard Keynes’s The Economic Consequences of the Peace  Macmillan (2019) appeared in Nature – the International Journal of Science – on 23 September, 2019.

“Ann Pettifor finds astonishing contemporary resonance in John Maynard Keynes’s critique of globalization and inequity.”

Keynes, then at the start of his career in economics, had attended the Paris Peace Conference, where the treaty was drafted, as an adviser to the British government. He left in protest. His hastily penned book was, and remains, a publishing phenomenon. Just a year later, The Economic Consequences of the Peace had been translated into 12 languages, and 100,000 copies sold worldwide. By the 1930s, Keynes had become one of the most influential economists in history. His book has never been out of print.

How the Green New Deal was born - New Statesman

How the Green New Deal was born - New Statesman

Eleven years ago, a group of economists and green thinkers devised a radical plan to transform the economy and protect the environment. Today, their ideas have been embraced by Labour and US Democrats.

Since a group of Labour activists began agitating for the party leadership to adopt a Green New Deal in March this year, the radical environmental policy has come suddenly and fiercely into play. On the final day of the party’s annual conference, delegates overwhelmingly voted for a version of the plan that would commit a Labour government to net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Transforming an economic system that threatens earth's life support systems.

Transforming an economic system that threatens earth's life support systems.

For more than fifty years the global economy has endured frequent and recurring financial crises, debt inflations and deflations, economic slumps and booms, volatility and instability. While economic activity has expanded it has increasingly become commodified, privatised and marketised. This economic expansion (often defined as ‘growth’ by economists) has been driven by easy (deregulated) and costly credit; credit that is created effortlessly but demands high rates of return (interest) and is highly extractive. Deregulated credit that has been used to expand production and consumption on a global scale. This expansion has led to intensified exploitation of both people and of the Earth’s finite resources.

System change - not climate breakdown

System change - not climate breakdown

PRIME’s director, Ann Pettifor is a co-author of this new report by the Green New Deal group UK, published on the day a wave of schoolstrikes swept the world - demanding action to reverse the potentially catastrophic impacts of earth systems collapse . It accompanies the publication of the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill, a Bill first tabled by Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) and Clive Lewis MP (Labour Party) in March 2019, now published in full. It is designed to implement a Green New Deal for the UK.

The Beauty of a Green New Deal is that it will pay for itself.

The Beauty of a Green New Deal is that it will pay for itself.

In September 2007, as credit was “crunched” and the financial crisis began to unfold, a group of economists and environmentalists, including the future Green party MP Caroline Lucas, met regularly in my small London flat. Supping on comfort food and wine, we argued furiously while drafting a plan we hoped would transform the economy and protect the ecosystem. We called it the Green New Deal. Little did we know that the ideas we seeded then would be adopted by a shooting star of the Democratic party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as part of her bid for a New York congressional seat in 2018.

The Rogue Prorogation and the English-Scottish judicial divide

As the pressures and contradictions of no-deal Brexit pressure threaten the unity of the United Kigdom, further fissures are to be seen through the prisms of judical reasoning, in which English and Scottish judges view and interpet the world in utterly divergent ways.

The English High Court has curtly dismissed the claim that the Prime Minister’s decision to seek prorogation of Parliament.  By contrast, the Scottish Court of Session (hearing the case on appeal) has held that the advice was for an improper purpose and so unlawful. Both decisions are the subject of appeal to the UK Supreme Court, to be heard on 17th September.

South Africa's moribund economy: searching for recovery in the wrong places

South Africa is an economy whose poverty, inequality and waste of human capital (unemployment) are only comparable to a country at war. The heinous cost of macroeconomic incompetence, capture or both must rank, in terms of resource misallocation (destruction of economic value), among the most expensive economic dislocation in the world, comparable to the crimes of apartheid and colonialism projects.

 The nation’s primitive understanding of money and indeed banking leads to the misguided use of tools that are highly anti-developmental but also tools that are drivers of financialisation in the economy with their attendant currency risks, poverty, unemployment and inequality generation.

Jeremy Corbyn's inner circles - from the FT

Jeremy Corbyn's inner circles - from the FT

On 3rd September, 2019 the Financial Times published a visual survey of figures around Jeremy Corbyn, Opposition leader and head of the British Labour Party. The story can be found here: Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME features in it. There is one minor error: Pettifor did not ‘step away’ from advising the Corbyn team after the European Referendum of 2016. The other economists on the advisory board stepped away…. Pettifor was the only one to remain. The following are extracts from the story.

Rethinking Britain – How to build a better future

 Published this month by Policy Press in partnership with PRIME and the Progressive Economic Forum (PEF), Rethinking Britain is not only for the many – it’s also written by the many. As a result, it doesn’t set out the vision of one or two people, but instead offers the assessment of a wide range of experts, who are working in or studying the areas we cover. We not only set out the problems and suggest policy solutions to address them.  Our aim is to help improve life for people living in today’s Britain.

From Hammond on to Johnson - where next for fiscal policy?

As Mr Johnson takes over as Leader of the Conservative Hard Brexit Cult, and by virtue thereof as Prime Minister, it is timely to take a quick look at what his economic and fiscal policy options are - at least in the lead up to DD-Day (Do or Die) on 31st October. It’s equally important to take stock of Mr Hammond’s record as he quietly fades away after three years as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Minor Mystery of the Euro’s Trade Effect

I do not consider an increase in inter-country trade a good thing in and of itself, though that view is common among economists and in the media.  For most economists increased trade reflects a putative more efficient international allocation of resources derivative from competition on a global scale. 

 Rarely noted is that free trade theory is consistent with a decline in bilateral trade due to the likely possibility of different demand preferences between countries and, more esoteric, re-switching of techniques.  Except in technical articles one tends to find the blanket generalization that liberalising trade increases bilateral and multilateral flows and that is unambiguously a good outcome.  In that context I look at EU trade patterns since the euro’s use became generalized in the early 2000s.

Of vaulting ambition, Macbeth, and what GATT Article 24 actually says

Boris Johnson is a moral (or is it amoral?) coward, dispenser of racist remarks, teller of untruths and general political fantasist. Driven by ambition and lust for power, he appears to have no principles to guide him save expediency and openness to self-serving opportunity.

But sometimes, the truthless soundbite that seemed so useful for a particular moment leaves its author or articulator exposed. And thus it is with Mr Johnson’s “GATT 24” untruth which has now unravelled, and forced Johnson into a rare ‘clarification’.. After all, when even Liam Fox says you’re wrong, you know you’re on a sticky wicket.

Thus Spoke the Bond Market

Will market volatility amidst global trade tensions and uncertainty cause a global recession? Although the world’s major central banks had managed to avoid risks in the first week of June, despite some small variations at some maturities, the United States yield curve remained more or less as it was at the beginning. What will happen in the not-so-distant future?

International coordination saved the finance sector, but not the world

2018 was the 150th anniversary of the TUC, and the 70th anniversary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD. As part of the celebration of these achievements, the TUC’s Economics and Social Affairs department organised an event “Lessons from the Great Financial Crisis” - on 12th November, 2018 – the day after Armistice day, and 100 years after the ending of the First World War.  Several speakers, including ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, were invited to address the gathering of trades unionists, thought leaders and economists. Below is a transcription of Ann Pettifor’s contribution.