An economic Bill of Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 12:53am in

It’s time to revive an idea floated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, write Mark Paul, Sandy Darity and Darrick Hamilton in the American Prospect:

Many may question in this time of “resistance,” if this is the right time to fight for an expansion of economics rights, but no one wins anything of consequence by simply playing defense.

Read more here.

Homelessness and employment: The case of Calgary

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 12:42am in

I’ve just written a blog post about homelessness and employment, with a focus on Calgary (where I live and work).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Persons experiencing homelessness usually have poor health outcomes, making it especially challenging to find and sustain employment.

-There are several non-profits in Calgary that assist persons experiencing homelessness to find and sustain work.

-Persons finding the most success in those programs tend to be relatively healthy (compared with their peers) and be between the ages of 25 and 60.

-In some cases, persons experiencing homelessness are overqualified for jobs.

-There is some evidence that subsidized housing can improve employment outcomes.

The link to the full blog post is here.

Homelessness and employment: The case of Calgary

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 12:42am in

I’ve just written a blog post about homelessness and employment, with a focus on Calgary (where I live and work).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Persons experiencing homelessness usually have poor health outcomes, making it especially challenging to find and sustain employment.

-There are several non-profits in Calgary that assist persons experiencing homelessness to find and sustain work.

-Persons finding the most success in those programs tend to be relatively healthy (compared with their peers) and be between the ages of 25 and 60.

-In some cases, persons experiencing homelessness are overqualified for jobs.

-There is some evidence that subsidized housing can improve employment outcomes.

The link to the full blog post is here.

Tax and social security changes since 2010 are a tale of increasing inequality and discrimination

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/03/2018 - 6:55pm in

The Equality and Human Rights Commission  published its final report on the impact of tax and social security changes in the UK over the last few years yesterday. The report was written by Jonathan Portes and my friend and occasional co-author, Howard Reed, in whom I have considerable confidence on this issue. I thought about summarising the report's press release, but it does the job perfectly well as published and so I cross post it here, because it deserves to be noticed in full so shocking are the findings:

Four months after releasing our interim report, we have today released our final cumulative impact assessment, exposing how much individuals and households are expected to gain or lose, and how many adults and children will fall below an adequate standard of living, as a result of recent changes to taxes and social security.

The report, which looks at the impact reforms from 2010 to 2018 will have on various groups across society in 2021 to 2022, suggests children will be hit the hardest as:

  • an extra 1.5 million will be in poverty
  • the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62%
  • households with three or more children will see particularly large losses of around £5,600

The report also finds:

  • households with at least one disabled adult and a disabled child will lose over £6,500 a year, over 13% of their annual income
  • Bangladeshi households will lose around £4,400 a year, in comparison to ‘White’ households, or households with adults of differing ethnicity, which will only lose between £500 and £600 on average
  • lone parents will lose an average of £5,250 a year, almost one-fifth of their annual income
  • women will lose about £400 per year on average, while men will only lose £30

The negative impacts are largely driven by changes to the benefit system, in particular the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.

David Isaac, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is responsible for making recommendations to Government on the compatibility of policy and legislation with equality and human rights standards, said:

"It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty. We cannot let this continue if we want a fairer Britain.

"We are keen to work together with government to achieve its vision of a Britain that works for everyone. To achieve this outcome it is essential that a full cumulative impact analysis is undertaken of all current and future tax and social security policies. We have proved it’s possible and urge the Government to follow our lead and work with us to deliver it.”

As well as calling on the Government to commit to undertaking cumulative impact assessments of all tax and social security policies, particularly in order to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Commission is also reiterating its call for government to:

  • reconsider existing policies that are contributing to negative financial impacts for those who are most disadvantaged
  • review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living

The announcement comes one week after the Commission submitted a report to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) highlighting that the UK’s social security system does not provide sufficient assistance to tackle inadequate living standards.

Download the reports

Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/03/2018 - 12:00am in

A growing number of corporate leaders say it’s time for them to start sharing the wealth. For decades, big business leaders have warned that redistributing wealth is bad for business. Taxing the rich to pay for infrastructure and education, they say, will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But what if it’s the opposite? What if decades of stagnant wages and growing inequality are scrambling the golden egg and stifling the economy? A growing body of research suggests that’s exactly what’s happening. And a growing number of business leaders now agree. Jim Sinegal, the retired CEO of Costco, famously fended off Wall Street pressure to cut wages and made an eloquent case for a higher federal minimum wage. “The more people make, the better lives they’re going to have and the better consumers they’re going to be,” Sinegal told the Washington Post years ago.

Stephen Hawking: Technology drives ever-increasing inequality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/03/2018 - 10:47am in

On 6 October 2015, a great theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking conducted a special Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session. Out of the thousands of submitted issues, Hawking selected those he wished to reply, mainly discussing aspects of artificial intelligence. In conclusion, Hawking … Continue reading →

The Godley-Tobin Lecture by James K. Galbraith

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/03/2018 - 5:35am in



Presenting the Lecture
Here is the audio file of Jamie Galbraith inaugural Godley-Tobin Lecture. Due to the weather he recorded the lecture before hand. The paper will appear in the Review of Keynesian Economics (ROKE) soon. Jamie presents a macro discussion of income distribution, which he correctly points out has been absent from most discussion of inequality in recent times.

Further, he connects his concern with the data (the UNIDO data that his team at UTIP has worked on for years now) to Wynne Godley's preoccupation with data consistency and accuracy. He also noted that James Tobin's preoccupation with the role of monetary variables, which Wynne certainly admired, is central to understand global inequality. We were very happy to have Jamie give the inaugural lecture, not just because we expected a great presentation, but more importantly because having interacted with both Godley, at the Levy, and with Tobin, at Yale and while he was in the staff at the US Congress, he was in a unique position to provide a thoughtful evaluation of their importance for what I referred (following Wynne) non-hyphenated Keynesianism to the understanding of economics.

A Month of Our Own: Amplifying Women’s Voices on LSE Review of Books

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/03/2018 - 12:25am in

8 March 2018 welcomes International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme being #PressforProgress. For the course of the month, LSE Review of Books will be centralising women’s voices, while also discussing wider issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in academic publishing. Managing Editor of the blog, Rosemary Deller, introduces the rationale and aims behind this endeavour. 

If you would like to contribute to this project in this month or beyond, please contact us at

A Month of Our Own: Amplifying Women’s Voices on LSE Review of Books

Image Credit: Women’s March, 2018 (Erik Drost CC BY 2.0)

This month welcomes International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual event held on 8 March, and is also Women’s History Month in the USA. In the UK, the 2018 IWD celebrations hold particular significance as this year marks the centenary of 40 per cent of women in the UK succeeding in gaining a vote in national elections – although it would not be until 1928 that all women over the age of 21 had full voting rights with the Equal Franchise Act.

2018 was also, however, provocatively proposed by Kamila Shamsie as the ‘Year of Publishing Women’. Writing in the Guardian in 2015, the novelist called for publishers to exclusively release books by women in 2018 to begin redressing the long-standing gender imbalance within the publishing industry. In her article, Shamsie particularly focused on the ways in which books are selected, marketed and received, including the culture surrounding literary prizes. Yet, publishing is also a sector whose workers are predominantly women, but which experiences a continued gender pay gap with senior positions largely filled by men; a recent study has furthermore shown that the industry remains ’90 per cent white’. It is in this context that the November 2017 Building Inclusivity in Publishing event, held in London, explored how conscious and unconscious exclusions on the grounds of gender, race, sexuality, disability, class and regionalism, amongst other intersecting categories, not only impoverish the publishing world, but society more broadly.

And what about academic publishing? Much critical attention has been paid to the voices that continue to be broadcast at a higher volume across a variety of disciplines. Here at LSE, three PhD students in the International Relations department examined the reading materials studied as part of LSE IR courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels: the results revealed a severe gender bias. Dr Alice Evans (Kings College, London) and Duncan Green, LSE Professor in Practice in International Development, have recently encouraged others to undertake an audit of their reading materials, giving consideration not only to gender, but also to the ways that race, geography and class inflect the figures. These studies and activities also complement wider moves and calls to ‘decolonise’ academia, as students at universities including LSE and UCL ask ‘why is my curriculum white?’.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress: encouraging us to call out and respond to continued inequalities that are typically structural in nature, but which require individual and collective action to address. Part of this arguably involves a reckoning with the potential problems in your own backyard. So, at the tail-end of 2017, as the Managing Editor of the LSE Review of Books blog since October 2015, I turned the lens on our output to see how the reviews published under my editorship were reflecting (and potentially contributing to) continued gender imbalances in academic publishing.

The results were disappointing, to put it mildly. Looking at reviews commissioned by and published on LSE Review of Books between January 2016 and December 2017, around two-thirds of featured books were authored by one or more men. Moreover, in parallel with the findings of the LSE IR audit, this was particularly distorted by the tendency for co-authored books to be predominantly male-authored: we published reviews of 62 books with two or more male authors. While 46 had a mixed gender authorship, only 19 books were edited or authored by two or more women. This imbalance narrowed when it came to contributors, yet there remains a 59 per cent/41 per cent split between men and women reviewers, respectively.

This audit is not as complete or ‘official’ a survey as that undertaken by my LSE colleagues. However, this cursory snapshot does parallel the gender bias that has been found to shape academia, and the social sciences in particular. Yet, especially in relation to the statistics regarding reviewers, it nonetheless instigated some reflection on my own responsibilities as editor of the LSE Review of Books blog. I had made the error of assuming that because I consider myself a feminist and attentive to issues surrounding exclusion, that this would translate into equal commissioning, equal representation: an inclusive reader and writer community. While this is hardly a revelatory point – indeed, this is belated recognition of what others have repeatedly and no doubt wearily underscored, especially in relation to racial inequalities – the audit made clear the dangers of a complacent faith in the alchemy of good intentions. In other words, the belief that simply by having ‘good’ thoughts and hopes and being ‘aware’ of inequality, this will magically engender diversity, inclusion, equity. It does not.

So, inspired by Shamsie’s call, critical discussions about widening the landscape of publishing, contemporary feminist movements, the theme of this year’s IWD, our own gender gap and other influences besides, LSE Review of Books is responding by running a month centring women’s voices. It is vital here to acknowledge that gender is certainly not lived or experienced as a binary construct limited to or encompassed by two categories of man/woman, masculinity/femininity; neither should gender be viewed as the intrinsic priority, the experience of which can be easily isolated from other intersecting oppressions and inequalities. We hope this will be reflected in some of our publishing this month as we also make some initial entry-points into considering converging exclusions in the publishing world.  While the aim to #PressforProgress cannot be achieved solely through temporary – and perhaps for some readers, tokenistic – endeavours, gestures can nonetheless be spurs for longer-term change and catalysts for crucial, continuing conversations.

Image Credit: (GGAADD CC BY SA 2.0)

To give some sense of the content you can anticipate over the course of the month as we put men on mute, our daily reviews will solely concern books authored, co-authored or edited by women, which will be evaluated by women contributors. The diversity of the reviews to be published – touching on such topics as critical race theory, human-animal studies, environmentalism, youth protest movements, the digital humanities, feminist histories and more – will hopefully make it clear that not only do #womenknowstuff across disciplines, methodologies and sub-fields, but also that this (admittedly ironic) hashtag should really be defunct for stating what we must all, surely, have realised.

Alongside this usual focus on book reviews, we’ll also be talking to several book authors about their new publications as well as reflecting on some of the figures who have served as notable inspiration when it comes to women’s voices within and beyond the academy. Concurrently, we’ll be turning the spotlight on some initiatives in publishing that are enabling the (re-) discovery of women authors from different eras and countries around the world.

Just as crucially, the month will include reflection on the critical role that the editing process can play in terms of foregrounding (but also silencing or obscuring) certain perspectives. I’ll be talking to book review editors about possible strategies for ensuring that more feminist voices are commissioned, without concurrently replicating the Anglo-American and/or Eurocentric focus that often inflects English-language publishing in academia. Yet, editing is not only about the subjects and individual books that we choose to showcase, but also about the nitty-gritty of working closely with language. As Dean Irvine and Smaro Kamboureli argue, ‘editing has been consistently integral to the creation, organization, and dissemination of knowledge in the arts and humanities, even though its indispensable function has not always been readily acknowledged’ (1) – and this is no less true of the social sciences. Since, as Kate Eichhorn and Heather Milne observe in the same collection, (copy-) editing is not only ‘work that first and foremost leads to the production of texts but […] work that produces social networks and forms of community’ (193), we’ll be hearing from a proponent of radical copy-editing as a means of ensuring that the language we utilise aligns with values of equity, inclusiveness and nonviolence – including thinking critically about how replicating the language of gendered and other binaries risks erasing lives and experiences.

We hope that some of this content will inspire reflection and dialogue – and also interest and enjoyment! At the same time, it does not cover all the issues that need to be considered when it comes to tackling exclusion and inequality in academic publishing. Furthermore, the topics that are considered in some form are certainly not to be seen as ‘ticked’ with a sigh of relief simply due the publishing of a single blog post on the subject. There are both further and different things to be said, but also gaps – or what might be viewed, less euphemistically, as failings or silences – in some of our coverage. We welcome debate and dialogue on this during and beyond this month. March has 31 days, but this conversation has no time limit.

Rosemary Deller is the Managing Editor of LSE Review of Books. She received a PhD in English and American Studies from the University of Manchester in 2015 for her thesis looking at co-constructions of gender and animality through representations of meat in contemporary culture. Prior to this, she studied Politics at undergraduate level at Newcastle University and has an MA in Gender Studies from Central European University, Budapest. Read more by Rosemary Deller.

This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the London School of Economics.

The Wealthy, The Poor, The Vulnerable

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/03/2018 - 4:00am in



In our deeply unequal age, we’ve become accustomed to talking about concepts like income and wealth, affluence and poverty. Researchers at the OECD, the developed world’s official economic research agency, would like to toss another concept into the inequality mix: economic vulnerability. Why do we need to talk about vulnerability? Wealth and income stats alone, a new OECD study points out, often don’t tell us the whole story about who’s prospering and who’s not. One example: Households with decent incomes often don’t have much in the way of assets. In these asset-poor households, any serious disruption — a sudden job loss, a family breakdown, a disability — could bring economic disaster. How many households are living at the precipice of this disaster? The OECD’s new economic vulnerability study has an alarming answer. The study covers the United States and 27 other major developed nations.

Buying Power: an often neglected, yet essential concept for economics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/02/2018 - 6:52am in



Buying power is a concept that is absent from basic economic theory, and this has major implications both for theory and for the practical issues that we face. This absence is odd because buying power is central to how the economy works. Its importance is not a new observation.  

By Michael Joffe.

In 1776, Adam Smith wrote that the degree to which a “man is rich or poor” depends mainly on the quantity of other people’s “labour which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase” (emphasis added). However, this idea of differential buying power has never been incorporated into economic theory, despite it being an obvious feature of the world we live in. The extent of a person’s disposable income and wealth gives them a corresponding degree of influence. It is like a voting system, where everybody votes for their view of what the economy should produce, but where the number of votes is very unequal. The term “power” here is best understood as meaning the degree of ability of a person or organization to bring something about. It is a causal (not e.g. a moral or political) concept.

Examples of its importance are everywhere. When prices rise, some potential consumers may be excluded – a form of rationing. In pleasant locations, affluent urban dwellers buy holiday homes, crowding out the local inhabitants who do not have the buying power to compete and therefore may have to leave the area. In low-income countries, the amount of transactional sex depends on inequality (the buying power of richer men), not poverty. Any industry depends on its (potential) customers’ buying power for support: washing machine manufacture is only possible if there is a market of people who can afford their product; luxury goods such as mega-yachts exist because there are mega-rich people to buy them.

Firms also have buying power, in varying degree, which enables them to transform the world, e.g. by taking possession of land and natural resources. Within the firm, the employers’ buying power is what enables them to employ workers, thereby creating the authority structure. And shareholders’ influence over the conduct of firms’ directors results from their ability to have bought shares. Finally, when China’s economy was expanding rapidly, its buying power created a worldwide commodities boom, with major impacts on (for example) Australia and Brazil, an impact that has diminished in recent years.

With a concept that is so obvious, one might expect it to be a prominent feature of economic theory. But in fact, it is only patchily represented. Notably, basic consumer theory obscures it completely, by looking at a potential consumer’s decision making given the amount of money that they have to spend – the fixed “budget constraint”. This naturally leads to a conception of the economy that neglects the role of effective demand.

At the aggregate level, in macroeconomics, buying power is represented: it is Keynes’ key concept of aggregate demand. It is also implicit in the flow diagrams that are often used to introduce students to economics, showing two-way flows with money in one direction and goods/services in the other, e.g. between households and firms in the aggregate.

Much of the controversy in economics is concerned with disputes over the competing varieties of macroeconomic theory, and other topics that are directly policy related. Commentators often say that micro is in a satisfactory condition, e.g. on the grounds that it is largely evidence-driven in specific areas such as labor economics, healthcare, education, etc. It is true that some good work is done in these applied areas. But the implication is that macro is the only problem, and this lets mainstream micro theory off the hook.

One implication – which is replicated across sub-disciplines such as health economics – is that the focus is mainly on the willingness to pay, obscuring the importance of the ability to pay. More broadly, it means that economics is a form of decision theory, and this often produces a default way of thinking that treats inequalities as an afterthought, rather than being inherent in how the economy operates. It has taken a huge rise in inequality in countries like the US and the UK, plus Piketty’s best-selling book, to bring this issue to mainstream attention.

This is especially problematic in the context of the widespread orthodox view that macro theory should be based on “micro-foundations” as if the micro theory is totally unproblematic. It implies adopting the extreme version of rationality assumed by mainstream microeconomic theorists, as well as optimization and so on. Naturally, there must be some correspondence between theories at the micro and macro levels – but that needs to involve concepts that correspond to the real world, both at the micro and macro levels.

But there is more: buying power is not the only type of economic power that we fail to recognize. Whilst monopoly power features in textbook economics and bargaining power is recognized, e.g. in game theory, other important types are neglected. These include corporate power and the power of the financial sector including the power of banks to create money. They overlap to some extent with buying power, but also have additional features that are beyond the scope of this article. This analysis is part of a broader rethinking of the foundations of economics, using concepts that actually correspond to the way the economy works – evidence-based economics.

Vast disparities in buying power have major macroeconomic and societal results. Inequality tends to lead to private-sector debt, which creates a vicious cycle, further enhancing the inequality. Private-sector debt also generates systemic instability and a risk of financial crisis. An IMF study concluded that restoring the bargaining power of the lower income groups would be the best way of reducing this debt, and enhancing the stability of the system.

Another consequence is environmental: increasingly rich consumers, in satisfying their wants, inflate their ecological footprints and damage the carrying capacity of the Earth. Recognizing and addressing over-consumption can play a major part in reducing our environmental impact.

Thus, buying power plays a central role, both in how the economy works and in pressing practical issues, and it is a serious error to ignore it. By incorporating it into our core thinking, we will be much better equipped to understand the economy and to address the challenges of increasing inequality, systemic instability, and environmental degradation.

About the Author
Michael Joffe was originally trained as a biologist, and for many years carried out epidemiological research at Imperial College, where he is still attached. He now applies his insight into the way that the natural sciences generate secure causal knowledge to his work in economics.

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