Friday, 11 November 2011

Great papers I've read in the last year and a bit....

These are some great papers I've read over the last year or so - I'll gradually add something about their content when I have the time (and maybe some more papers):

- This article by Will Davies is a fascinating study of how neoliberal thought on monopoly and antitrust changed during the 1950s and 60s and then influenced the US judicial process during the 1970s and 1980s. Neoliberal scholars became more relaxed about monopoly as a consequence of economic studies (e.g. Free Market Study, 1946-52) and theories (e.g. Coase's transaction costs) that identified corporations as 'efficient' resource allocators by focusing on consumers (e.g. prices) rather than producer practices (e.g. collusion). It nicely complements the work by Jackson and van Horn (see below). [11 Nov 2011]

- Another historical study of the early days of neoliberal thought. It highlights the extent to which neoliberal ideas evolved and mutated during the early to mid twentieth century (also evident in Rob van Horn's work - see below). In particular, Ben Jackson highlights the neoliberal emphasis on the 'positive' role played by the state in creating and maintaining competition and, hence, 'free' markets - one particular aspect of this positive role was the break-up of large corporations because of the threat posed by their monopoly power. [28 Nov 2011]

- The kind of article I wished I had the ability to write - informative and engaging at the same time. After reading Geoff Mann's paper, I realised that with much of what I read nowadays I'm not actually learning anything anymore. Most papers are a repackaging of previous ideas in new ways - all very interesting, but often not very enlightening. This article stands in contrast to this trend. It taught me about monetary policy at the same time as it dissected the implications of monetary policy. A rare gem! [11 Nov 2011]

  • Van Horn, R. 2009. Reinventing monopoly and corporations: The roots of Chicago Law and Economics, in The Road from Mont Pelerin, by P. Mirowski and D. Plehwe(Eds) Harvard: Harvard University Press. 
- The work that Robert van Horn (and his collaborators) is doing on the 'hidden' histories of neoliberal thought is fascinating stuff. It's detailed archival research on the evolution of the Chicago School and provides a number of insights into the tensions, differences and downright contradictions that underpin much of neoliberal thinking and many of the critical analyses of neoliberalism as well. What I particularly like about this paper is the discussion of how there is a dramatic reversal of opinion towards monopoly and antitrust by neoliberals during the 1940s and 1950s, which leads the way for neoliberals to support corporate America. Van Horn has produced and is producing plenty to read on this topic - I look forward to keeping an eye out for future offerings. [14 Nov 2011]

- A really dense - in a good way! - and detailed article by Alan Walks in which he explores the 2007+ financial crisis and argues that it basically results from what he terms 'ponzi neoliberalism'. According to Walks, this ponzi neoliberalism originates in the late 1990s with the expansion of what I would term an asset-based economy; i.e. continuous growth in credit, debt and asset values, all feeding off one another and dependent upon continuous growth in all three. Overall, it's a great paper that provides an enormous amount of empirical detail within a strong analytical framework. [17 Nov 2011]