The imperial intentions of Trump’s trade war babble Andrew M. Fischer

Trump’s trade tirades are being vigorously disputed by liberal economists the world over, although the riposte is usually in defence of free trade and existing trade deals. However, many of these same economists have promulgated the underlying idea that US trade deficits are the result of some sort of disadvantage or decline. For instance, as I discussed in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, many prominent economists such as Paul Krugman argued then (and many still do now) that China’s undervalued currency gave it an unfair advantage, causing deficits and even financial bubbles in the US. Many economists on the left…

What’s different about Trump’s tariffs? Jomo Kwame Sundaram

At Davos in January, US President Donald Trump warned that the US "will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices" of others, interpreted by many as declaring world trade war. Before the US mid-term elections in November, Washington is expected to focus on others' alleged "massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning" pointing to China without always naming names. With the Republican Party already united behind his tax bill, Trump senses an opportunity to finally unite the party behind him and to continue his campaign for re-election in 2020. Since January, Trump has…

The real confusion over MSP C.P. Chandrasekhar

Speaking at the Krishi Unnati Mela 2018, Prime Minister Modi reportedly complained that confusion is being spread about the announcement on minimum support prices (MSPs) made in the Finance Minister’s 2018 budget speech. The speech had assured farmers that they would in future be able to sell the output of notified crops to the official procurement agencies at prices to be set at a minimum of 1.5 times the cost of production. The confusion being created according to the Prime Minister relates to how costs of production would be calculated. In an attempt to clarify, he stated that beside costs…

Doyen of ‘Dependency Theory’ Sunanda Sen

Theotonio dos Santos (1936–2018), who passed away on 27 February in Rio de Janeiro, has been one of the major proponents of dependecia or dependency theory, along with Andre Gunder Frank, Giovanni Arrighi, Samir Amin and, to some extent, Immanuel M Wallerstein. Continuing to provide inspiration to large sections of people, including social scientists and activists in different parts of the world, dependency theory has been important for those interpreting the growing disparities between the advanced and the developing world. Santos had a particularly marked presence in Latin America, both through his writings and in his active involvement in political struggles against…

Multilateralism redux and the Havana Charter Richard Kozul-Wright

President Donald Trump’s tariff tantrum has provoked a mixture of disbelief and loathing, none more than from economic pundits who have deemed it irrelevant (for reducing the trade deficit), irresponsible (in damaging job prospects) and irrational (by weakening the global value chains on which American business depends). Much of this criticism hits the mark. But it is worked in to a meta-narrative about the end of the post-war liberal order that not only presents a flawed interpretation of history but one that is unlikely to help advance a policy agenda that speaks to the anxiety and anger that President Trump…

How unequal are world incomes? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Global inequality has reduced as income growth shifts from the Northern countries to emerging markets like the BRICS. But this shift is quite limited and has not benefited the bulk of people in the developing world. Unequal_World_Incomes (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally posted in the Business Line on 27 March 2018.)  

Call for papers for an UNRISD Conference on Inequalities, Elite Power and Social Mobilization Geneva, November 2018

UNRISD is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for a major international conference to be held in Geneva in November 2018 with the title: Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization. Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit proposals for papers addressing the key themes to be covered at the conference: The role and influence of elites The role of institutions in perpetuating or curbing inequalities Shifting class structures and identities The effects of deepening inequalities on local lifeworlds Actors, alliances and social mobilization for progressive change Please click here for more details: www.unrisd.org/CallForPapers2018 You…

Trump’s Protectionism Prabhat Patnaik

On March 8 Donald Trump made an announcement which according to many has the potential of starting a global trade war. He announced that the U.S. would be raising tariffs on imported steel by 25 percent and tariffs on imported aluminium by 10 percent. Now, the WTO allows tariffs under certain circumstances, against for instance some country that is “unfairly” subsidizing its exports, or is dumping its goods, which means charging higher prices on the domestic market for the same goods that are sold cheap in the export market. It also allows tariffs under a “safeguard” clause whereby a country…

Technological Change and Impoverishment Prabhat Patnaik

The fact that the socio-economic effects of technological change depend upon the property relations within which such change occurs is obvious but often not appreciated. Consider a simple example. Suppose on a certain area 100 labourers were engaged for harvesting the crop at a total cost of Rs.5000; but the capitalist-landlord decides to use a harvester combine instead. Then the labourers’ income goes down by Rs.5000. The capitalist-landlord’s wage-cost goes down by Rs.5000, which accrues therefore as an addition to his profits. But suppose the harvester combine were to be owned by a collective of the workers. Then they can…