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Hadas Weiss

My goal in this forum essay is to brush the dust off Claude Meillassoux’s (1981) magnum opus, Maidens, Meal and Money, by demonstrating its relevance for the present day. While Meillassoux wrote primarily about precapitalist agricultural communities, he had sketched on their basis a model of social reproduction that incorporates social investments and powers, and he foregrounded the hierarchical and exploitative reproductive orders by which capitalism sustains accumulation. In the context of a renewed interest by feminist scholars in questions of social reproduction, I argue that the analytical tools developed by Meillassoux are at least as helpful in making sense of the age of financialization.

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Richard H. Robbins

Interrelationships among money, debt, and economic growth create a financial system that provides a steady stream of income to banks and private investors— the proverbial 1 percent. However, because economists obscure these interrelationships, threats to the maintenance of the monetary streams of the elite are underreported. Consequently, increasing shares of national incomes must be appropriated to maintain those streams. This article reexamines the nature of and relationships among money, debt, and economic growth to understand austerity programs and why rates of economic growth must decline and how governments and elites adjust to this reality. It then suggests alternative ways of addressing the creation of money and the problems arising from the division of society into net debtors and net creditors.

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Teppo Eskelinen

This article focuses in the allocation of financial risks from the viewpoint of social justice. In contemporary society, finance and the related risk allocation patterns have become highly important in determining the social positions of individuals. Yet it is somewhat unclear how ‘financial risks’ should be understood in normative theory and to what extent their allocation is a specific problem of justice. This article consists of a definition of this category and a typology of three different and distinctive perspectives to financial risks and social justice, out of which a synthesis is drawn. The contribution of the article is to propose a normative basis for a research programme on risks and justice in the society of high financialisation.

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Giliberto Capano

The education policies of Berlusconi’s fourth government have been

characterized by a certain decision-making efficiency, when compared

with those of the governments that immediately preceded it (both Prodi

III and Berlusconi II and III). In fact, in the first two and a half years of the 16th Legislature, there have been decisions that will have a significant

impact on the educational system, and it should be emphasized

that many of these have actually been put into effect or are in the

first stage of implementation. The minister of education, Mariastella

Gelmini, has therefore clearly shown greater decision-making abilities

than her predecessors. She has taken advantage of the fact that she

has been able to develop her strategy via a “financial” route, with

educational rule-making informed by Law No. 133/2008, which contains

“urgent measures for economic development and for the simplification,

competitiveness, and stabilization of public finance and tax

equalization.”

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Stephen J. Silvia

Among the many striking developments that arose out of the 2008-2009

financial crisis and the subsequent EURO crisis has been the policy divergence

between the United States and Germany. Typically, the two countries

have broadly similar preferences regarding economic policy. To be

sure, this is not the first time that Germany and the U.S. have failed to see

eye to eye on economic matters,1 but the recent gap in perception and

policy does warrant attention because it has been unusually large. Unlike

the famous quarrels between Jimmy Carter and Helmut Schmidt in the

1970s,2 personality does not seem to play a role in this case. What then

does explain the gulf?

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Manuela Moschella

This chapter investigates the reforms of some important and distinctive sectors of the Italian financial system: the banche popolari and the fondazioni bancarie. These reforms are particularly relevant in the list of events that have marked the year 2015 because they are inextricably intertwined with revisions in the EU supervisory and regulatory architecture and because they are an integral part of the broader government plan to revive economic growth after the fiscal crisis. In particular, the chapter analyzes the long- and short-term factors that set the stage for the reforms to take place. These include transformations in the large cooperative banks and the inaction of key parts of the domestic financial sector with regard to legislative and structural changes; competitive pressures deriving from the buildup of European financial integration; and the backing of domestic and international regulators such as the Bank of Italy, the IMF, and the EU Commission, among others.

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Abraham L. Newman

Since the end of World War II, scholars have attempted to make sense of Germany's insistent multilateralism. Many concluded that this sacrifice resulted from a deeply ingrained political identity that stressed international cooperation and shunned parochial national politics. More recently, however, German leadership has suggested a willingness to weaken its role as global altruist and reassert its interests in Europe and abroad. This article argues that core German attitudes towards regional and global cooperation have changed. But rather than a shift to "national self-interests," I argue that the unification process elevated long-held beliefs about policy conservatism and caution that now compete with the postwar multilateral policy frame within the foreign policy elite. In addition to the pro-European, multilateralist agenda, a second powerful lesson of the interwar period emphasized the dangers associated with sudden change and the benefits of incrementalism. Owing to the uncertainty associated with sociopolitical events, decision makers must rely on their beliefs about how the world works to guide their decisions. To explore the relationship between beliefs and Germany's regional policy, the paper examines the government's regional response to the post 2008 financial crisis and the banking crisis in Eastern Europe.

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Can a financial bubble burst if no one hears the pop?

Transparency, debt, and the control of price in the Kathmandu land market

Andrew Haxby

This article concerns the formation of price in Kathmandu’s land market. In Nepal, land has been for generations the bedrock of savings and household finance, an objectification of social status and a subject of intense political debate, up to and including the recent Maoist insurrection. In Kathmandu, however, the meaning of land has begun to change, mostly because of the rapid fluctuations in its monetary value. This article demonstrates how residents have used localized understandings of price and value formation to explain these changes, understandings that take as their reference point historical landlord-tenant relationships and not the machinations of market equilibrium. This article interrogates the notion that the market animates price, instead arguing that price can index a multitude of value formations.

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David Graeber

Terms such as 'fate' and 'luck' are ways of talking about the ambiguities and antinomies of temporal existence that all humans, even social theorists, have to confront in one form or another. Concepts that include mana, śakti, baraka, and orenda might best be considered as grappling with the exact same paradoxes. Nor should we assume that social scientific approaches are necessarily more sophisticated. Current discourse on 'performativity', for instance, seems in certain ways rather crude when compared to the Malagasy concept of hasina (usually translated as 'sacred power'), which takes on the same dilemma—what I call the 'paradox of performativity'—in a far more nuanced way.

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Between Europe and a Hard Place

French Financial Diplomacy from 1995 to 2002

Daphne Josselin

In the mid-1990s, a series of financial crises placed international financial stability and North-South dialogue once again very firmly on the agenda of economic diplomacy. These had long been pet topics for the French: back in the 1960s, President Charles de Gaulle had famously clamoured for the establishment of a new monetary order; the summitry set up, on French initiative, in 1975, had been largely focused on exchange rate stability and North-South relations; in the 1980s, President Mitterrand had made repeated appeals for a “new Bretton Woods.” One could therefore expect the French to contribute actively to debates on how best to reform the international financial architecture.