A withering, reasoned call to renew France

Economist Brigitte Granville* outlines the country’s dysfunction and seeks to scrap the single currency

By Ben Hall – Financial Times

Re-blogged

In little less than a year French voters will go to the polls to decide whether to give Emmanuel Macron another five years in the Elysée Palace. So it is time to weigh up his achievements and shortcomings. In What Ails France, Brigitte Granville, a French-born economist, finds few of the former and many of the latter. Her assessment is withering, visceral even. The official photograph of the young Olympian president “with his fixed and icy gaze gives me cold sweats every time I set eyes on it in the mayor’s office of my small village in northern Burgundy”. She has written, she concedes, an “at times indignant tract”. The Macron story is one of lost illusions. He rose to power promising ……..

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*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

CGR Annual Globalisation Seminar and Workshop on Political Economy and Economic Development

On 29th of June the Centre for Globalisation Research (CGR) of the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London is hosting the annual Globalisation Seminar and workshop on Political Economy and Economic Development organised by Dr. Caterina Gennaioli (CGR Director). The special theme of this year’s event is “Climate policy and environmental co-operation”.

The Globalisation Seminar Series is a prestigious annual series offering a platform to prominent academics and policy-makers to discuss the latest debate in economics and economic policy. The Series has attracted world leading scholars such as Esther Duflo (MIT), Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia), Alberto Alesina (Harvard), Paul Collier (Oxford) and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Paris School of Economics and EHESS).

The speaker of the Globalisation seminar this year is Professor Scott Barrett (Vice Dean, School of International and Public Affairs; Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Columbia University) who is a leading scholar on transnational and global challenges, ranging from climate change to disease eradication. His research focuses on how institutions like customary law and treaties can be used to promote international cooperation. Professor Barrett will give the talk: “The Promise and Peril of Linking Cooperation on Trade to Cooperation on Climate Change“.

The event will start at 12.45 with a workshop in political economy and economic development where leading scholars in the field will present their most recent research on climate policy and environmental cooperation. The agenda of the event can be found here.

Attendance to this event is by registration only.

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Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #SBMglobalisation , #CGRblog
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Inflation might well keep rising in 2021 – but what happens after that?

By Brigitte Granville* – The Conversation

Re-blogged

The US Federal Reserve has just reassured the markets that it doesn’t expect inflation to get out of hand in the coming months. It comes as concerns about serious inflation damaging the global economy have reached fever pitch, particularly since recent Labor Department data showed that American inflation rose 4.2% over the 12 months ended April – the highest since the global financial crisis of 2007-09. In the euro area, inflation seems certain during the rest of this year to break out above the European Central Bank target of “close to but below 2%”.

Central bankers on both sides of the Atlantic say that these price rises are a temporary consequence of the whiplash effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on demand. Supply chains in everything from commodities to semiconductors have been disturbed ……

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*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

FRANCE’S CULTURE WAR INTENSIFIES

By Brigitte Granville* – Project Syndicate

Re-blogged

With his speech commemorating the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, President Emmanuel Macron apparently is seeking to confront all aspects of the emperor’s divisive legacy. How he manages that characteristic balancing act could reveal much about his ability to keep France’s simmering culture war from boiling over.

LONDON – By laying a wreath on Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb on the 200th anniversary of his death, French President Emmanuel Macron has stepped further into the fray of the country’s escalating culture war. Can France’s rifts be healed, or is the country really headed, as some predict, toward “deadly civil war”?

Napoleon’s legacy has long been divisive. His admirers laud……

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*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

Officials’ ecological assessment, regional environmental regulation and corporate green innovation

by Qiuyue Yang*

Introducing research projects of CGR PhD members.

The environmental pollution problems are still prominent in China. In recent years, the central government has tried to guide local governments to reshape their ecological management system by establishing the Central Environmental Inspection System and River Chief System, improving Carbon Emission Rights Trading Market, and implementing Eco-compensation Program. However, these “carrot and stick” policies have poor effects, and the ecological imbalance problems have not been fundamentally solved. Some scholars believed that China’s special government performance evaluation system and irregular officials flow mechanism are important reasons for the long-term ineffective pollution control (Huang et al., 2019). Specifically, Chinese officials’ promotion and turnover can be regarded as a performance-based tournament in which the promotion of local officials is highly linked with the economic growth of their jurisdictions (Li et al., 2019). This creates a strong linkage between local officials’ private interests and regional economic development (Li and Zhou, 2005), so local officials compete over targets for short-term economic growth at the expense of ecological environment to gain career promotion (Liu and Jin, 2015). Therefore, the key to promote the reform of Chinese environmental governance system is to establish an effective officials’ ecological assessment system, to solve information asymmetry problems regarding environmental governance, and to incentivise corporate green innovation.

Against this background, Chinese central government explores ways to implement natural resource audits when leading officials leave their positions, and in 2014 officially launched the pilot project Accountability Audit of Natural Resource (AANR). During the period from 2015 to 2017, the pilot work of AANR was implemented in stages and steps. In 2018, the regular officials’ ecological assessment system was formally established. The central government implements AANR policy, which directly acts on local officials rather than firms, and local officials further transmit their pressure on environmental governance to industrial enterprises. In detail, the AANR policy links the territorial responsibility of environmental protection to officials’ promotion, which encourages officials to strengthen environmental governance, incentivising enterprises to invest in green innovation activities.

Figure 1 AANR policy.
Source: image from http://epaper.hyqss.cn/html/2017-11/30/content_7_17.htm

Local officials may take punitive and environmental governance measures to improve corporate green innovation capability, including the (1) “Strong supervision strategy” (command-and-control) and, (2) the “Flexible regulation strategy” (market-based). According to the former strategy, local officials may implement stricter environmental regulation by administrative orders to transmit environmental governance pressure to industrial enterprises, such as strengthening the supervision of firms’ pollutant discharge, raising pollution discharge standards, and imposing stricter punishment on polluters. In this case, enterprises may improve productivity and green innovation capacity to reach the environmental standards, namely the driving effect. According to the latter strategy, local officials may increase environmental subsidies to give support for corporate green innovation. Companies in green sectors may receive more environmental subsidies. Government environmental subsidies compensate for insufficient corporate resources, reduce environmental protection costs, lower environmental investment risks, and enhance the enthusiasm of enterprises for environmental protection, thereby motivating enterprises to invest in green innovation activities, namely the incentive effect.

Figure 2 Logical diagram of AANR policy and corporate green innovation. (Source: compiled by the author)

The existing literature aims to explore the impact of formal environmental regulations on firms’ green innovation, but few studies include officials’ ecological assessment into research scope. The AANR is an innovative policy of officials’ ecological assessment proposed by China, and the relevant research only focuses on the basic concept, main framework and implementation strategy of this policy (Chen, 2014; Huang, 2016; Liu and Wang, 2017). The empirical research on the policy effect mainly includes three aspects: environmental quality (Huang et al., 2019), corporate environmental investments (Sun, 2019), and financial management behavior (Liu and Xie, 2018), lacking analysis and evaluation on the green innovation effect of officials’ ecological assessment system.

My research aims to study the impact of officials’ ecological assessment on corporate green innovation, and clarify whether officials’ ecological assessment influences corporate green innovation through strengthening environmental governance. Methodologically, I treat AANR policy as a quasi-natural experiment and evaluate its effect on green innovation by using detailed data on green patent applications of China’s A-share listed industrial enterprises. More importantly, I try to examine whether under the AANR policy, local officials choose “strong supervision strategy” or “flexible regulation strategy” and their effects on green corporate innovation.

* Qiuyue Yang is a PhD student from School of Economics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, visiting Queen Mary University under the supervision of Dr. Caterina Gennaioli.

References:

Chen, X. D. (2014). Thinking about carrying out accountability audit of natural resource. Auditing Research. 5, pp. 15-19.

Sun, Y. P. (2019). Policy effect research of Accountability Audit of Natural Resource: Theoretical analysis and empirical evidence. Dongbei University of Finance & Economics

Huang, R. B. (2016). Research on accountability audit of natural resource based on PSR model. Accounting Research. 7, pp. 89-95.

Huang, R. B., Zhao, Q. (2019). Wang, L. Y. Accountability Audit of Natural Resource and air pollution control: Harmony tournament of environmental protection qualification tournament. China Industrial Economics. 10, pp. 23-41.

Li, H. and Zhou, L. A. (2005). Political turnover and economic performance: The incentive role of personnel control in china. Journal of Public Economics. 89(9), pp. 1743-1762.

Li, X., Liu, C., Weng, X., Zhou, L. A. (2019). Target setting in tournaments: Theory and evidence from China. The Economic Journal, 129(623), pp. 2888-2915.

Liu, R. B., Wang, H. B. (2017). Analysis of audit of outgoing leading officials’ natural resources accountability. Auding Research. 4, pp. 32-38.

Liu, W. J., Xie, B. S. (2018). Does local governors’ Accountability Audit of Natural Resource affect earnings management for listed companies? Journal of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. 1, pp. 13-23.

EUROPE’S COMPLACENCY TRAP

By Brigitte Granville* – Project Syndicate

Re-blogged

Members of the EU establishment should not read too much into failures of “populist” governance. Until the bloc can devise institutional arrangements that allow for consistent, equitable growth, crises will keep coming – and so will anti-establishment challengers.

LONDON – COVID-19 has wounded almost every developed country, but the truth is that living standards in many of them had been stagnating or declining for years. Many metrics highlight this trend, but perhaps the most telling comes from the OECD, which reports a 4% decline in household median net wealth across its member countries since 2010.

No wonder advanced economies have experienced periodic explosions of anger…….

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*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

Implementing the SDGs in India: Poverty, Hunger and Gender

By Stella Ladi

Re-blogged

The overall context regarding the SDGs

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated 169 targets were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations with the potential to reorient the domestic priorities of countries during the subsequent fifteen years. Countries are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for achieving these goals. In the context of sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, a successful implementation of the SDGs in India would mark significant progress for their achievement worldwide, because the country’s more than 1.3 billion people constitute about one-sixth of humanity.

The Indian SDG implementation framework

This article draws on the results of the project “Implementing the SDGs in India: Poverty, Hunger and Gender”, which has been supported by Queen Mary University of London and brought together a group of partners from India and Europe. The overall aim…..

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A brave new fiscal world

by Brigitte Granville*

Contemporary political economy has been serving up plentiful lessons for one of history’s core questions – about change and, especially, when and how any real change occurs. Or, if not lessons, then at least case histories (the raw material of lessons). The rich world, aka the advanced industrial democracies, lurches from crisis to crisis. There is nothing like the onset of a proper crisis to raise perceptions or expectations that the future must be ordered differently, and long-festering problems addressed. In Russia, this feeling was captured by the use of a stock phrase in the title of an epoch-defining film of the perestroika period – “we can’t go on living like this (tak zhit’ nel’zya)”; and the ensuing collapse of the USSR had as strong a claim as any event to qualify as a real change (if not ‘a change to end all changes’ as implied by Francis Fukuyama’s much travestied “end of history” tag).

However, as we contemplate the possible implications of the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying blows to economic growth and employment, scepticism about change may seem in order. After all, the generation-long experience since the Soviet collapse has been one of chronically recurring crises like violent squalls leaving, beneath the surface debris, all-too-familiar problems unresolved. There would be nothing new about such scepticism. In his L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (1856), Alexis de Tocqueville argued that the Great Revolution of 1789 had changed little – “plus ça change.” Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s historical novel The Leopard (1958) describes how whole states and ruling dynasties disappeared at the time of the unification of Italy in the 1860s. This episode had all the trappings of political upheaval but in many key respects the economic and social order remained unchanged. The maxim of the aristocratic hero of the novel Tancredi Falconeri summed it up: ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change’.

Nevertheless, some aspects of the economic policy response to the Covid-19 crisis may signify a more substantial shift than was seen after the last big shock – the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007. To start with what might seem a surface detail: in its 18 March report of a Zoom debate about the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion rescue package between two of the best known US macro-economists, Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman, The New Yorker magazine highlighted Summers’s present position as an “outsider”. What a turnaround for this hitherto consummate insider!

One aspect of the critique of the “American Rescue Plan” as previously set out by Summers in the Washington Post was that this package might reduce the political headroom required for a different sort of fiscal effort that he strongly supports. This is materially larger government investment spending – on infrastructure, and particularly ‘green energy’, projects. As the next chapter in this saga may show, however, the Biden administration could equally well have established the political momentum required to give its mooted “Building Back America” proposals some chance of being enacted.

This, in any case, will be the decisive test of real change. Global output is now entering into its immediate post-pandemic bounce-back phase after last year’s ‘Covid’ recession. The question is what happens to the world economy after that recession-then-bounce-back episode is over and done with. Against the background of a ‘lost decade’ in which hopes of growth being driven by private business investment in response to market signals were disappointed, the only answer is government investment, creating incremental demand by raising employment and labour participation.  This will result in higher wages (because of worker bargaining power) and higher productivity (as firms invest in new equipment to offset rising labour costs).

A useful perspective here is to contrast the potential prospect of a new and more inclusive growth cycle post-Covid with what happened post-GFC. That previous recovery of the 2010s was lacklustre to put it mildly. It left many households with lower real disposable incomes and poorer job quality and security. In the OECD area, real wage growth fell well short of pre-GFC trends: average annual wage growth in real terms declined from 2.4% in Q4 2007 to 1.5% on average in Q4 2019.

The mediocre post-GFC recovery stemmed ironically from the authorities’ very efforts to improve the economy. Fiscal austerity was combined with ultra-loose monetary policy. Historically low interest rates degraded the quality of such growth as was seen in that post-GFC decade. The widening inequalities from asset wealth expanding on the back of QE, with the ‘trickle down’ effect largely limited to the creation of low-paid jobs in the hospitality sector, aggravated the scarring caused over a generation by globalization and technological change – hollowing out mid-skilled/paid jobs in rich countries. A minority in those middle brackets may have been able to up-skill, while the majority slid down the scale in income and status.

This loss of status and dignity for this squeezed middle class and the working poor must account – alongside the relentless pressure on material living standards – for the social and political backlashes on both sides of the Atlantic. The importance of social recognition was well brought out by the German philosopher Axel Honneth. The lack of social recognition is reflected in attitudes of detachment and disenchantment towards politics intensifying into a disgust and desire to break the system. This alienated section of society has simply lost all confidence that government can change anything and the result is a political landscape that is increasingly difficult to decipher. ‘Trump & Brexit’ are the most conspicuous symptoms of this problem, but continental Europe has seen its own versions – including the unprecedented ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) protest movement in France that has been a focus of my own recent work.

If the promise of genuine change in the wake of the pandemic may be taken seriously, it remains all too far from being a foregone conclusion. In Europe, for example, there are announced increased spending plans at both the EU and the national levels. There is so much to be done, from restoring crumbling infrastructure to rebuilding energy systems, installing digital technology backbones everywhere and training the workforce in digital technology. . . But are the bureaucrats capable of spending the money efficiently? Like many other economists who follow closely monetary and fiscal policy developments, I will believe it only when I see it.

As for the US, the country’s deep polarization remains a serious obstacle to the Biden administration’s ambitions. On both sides of the Atlantic, economic uncertainty and declining living standards have created internal tensions and fractures turning a large section of society in on itself – and away from a threatening and alien wider world. Unless trust and dignity are restored, overcoming widespread poverty and despair, these tensions will not go away.

*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

https://www.mqup.ca/what-ails-france–products-9780228006800.php?page_id=73&

References

Carney, M. 2021. “A new dawn for globalisation”. FTWeekend, 20/21 March 2021.

Di Lampedusa, G. (2007). The Leopard. New York City: Pantheon Books.

Granville, B. 2013. Remembering inflation. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Honneth, A. 2006. La société du mépris. Vers une nouvelle théorie critique. Paris: la Découverte.

Wallace-Wells, B. 2021. “Larry Summers Versus the Stimulus”. The NewYorker, March 18, 2021.

Was Benjamin Disraeli Britain’s first BAME Prime Minister? Or, why it is good that the BAME term has been scrapped.

by Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay*

Was Benjamin Disraeli Britain’s first BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Prime Minister? Clearly not. British Jews are not understood to be BAMEs, in spite of being ethnic minorities and comprising less than 0.5% of the British population. British Jews are some of the largest individual contributors to UK’s GDP, having become prominent in law, politics, business, entertainment and academe.

This paradox is also evident when one identifies Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel, and Suella Braverman as BAMEs. As British Indians, they too are ethnic minorities, constituting just over 2% of the British population, but they don’t exactly constitute a portrait of economic or social deprivation. Neither do Britons such as Cush Jumbo, Konnie Huq, Kazuo Ishiguro, Vanessa Mae, David Oyelowo, Jasminder Singh or Gok Wan conjure images of disadvantagedness.

Of course, the term BAME is all about describing economic and social disadvantage. We all knew that, but of recent public discourse in Britain has comfortably used this poorly defined classification to identify Britain’s disadvantaged individuals. Yet a cursory look at the current statistics for UK’s income distribution by ethnic group has some interesting findings. By recent statistics, British Chinese have the highest incomes, followed by Indians and whites. By contrast, British Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Black/Caribbean/African and Black British are least represented in the top earning quintile. The findings are reversed when we examine the bottom two quintiles, where British Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Black/Caribbean/African and Black British occupy much of the bottom of the UK income distribution. Thus all British ethnic minorities are not disadvantaged as the term BAME would suggest.

Source: UK Parliament document ‘Income inequality by ethnic group’, 2020, Commons Library, https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/income-inequality-by-ethnic-group/

UK’s wealth inequality has yet another harsh story to tell. While the median white British and Indian household in the last decade was worth £282,000 and £266,000, respectively, the median black Caribbean household was only worth £89,000. Black African and Bangladeshi households had the lowest household net worth of just £24,000 and £22,000, respectively. These wealth inequality statistics are partly explained by age (as the white British and Indian households are older), but they are also indicative of historical deprivation in education and access to good jobs. Lower incomes mean lower saving rates and thus fewer assets.

The incidence of Britain’s socially disadvantaged also varies greatly by region. The majority of ethnic minority poverty in the UK is concentrated in inner city London. Three-fifths of black Britons live in London.  Outside London, the distribution of the ethnically disadvantaged is similar to that of disadvantaged whites across the UK. Ethnic variation in poverty is remarkably less pronounced outside London.

All said, Britain’s disadvantaged ethnic groups deserve outstanding attention due to these stark disadvantages. But how should we identify these groups of individuals?

There are tried and tested means of identifying people who are disadvantaged and poor. Indeed, Frederick Engels in his 1845 treatise, the Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 succinctly sums up what it means to be economically vulnerable: ‘He knows that, though he may have the means of living to-day, it is very uncertain whether he shall to-morrow.’ Economic and social disadvantage has no regard for ethnic or national borders if the preconditions for precariousness are met – namely, low levels of education, poor access to jobs and regional poverty.

When media commentators, organisations and policy makers wish to identify groups of Britons who are subject to economic and social deprivation, they can turn to a rich body of economic literature which describes how to count the disadvantaged, identifies specific groups by demographic characteristics and explains mechanisms that allow for the persistence of poverty amongst these identified groups. The recent Deaton Review (2020) measuring the unequal impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities in the UK sets a fine example of how policy makers can identify specific ethnic minority groups disadvantaged by economic downturns, and thus can devise policies that mitigate the effects of the shock.

There is thus no a priori reason for a poorly conceived definition of disadvantagedness such as BAME. It neither serves the purpose for accurately counting the disadvantaged, nor is it able to correctly identify ethnic groups who are truly disadvantaged, and it certainly serves no purpose to devise policies that support these individuals. A further downside of using broad acronyms such as BAME is that Britain’s disadvantaged ethnic groups are likely to change over time. Afro-Caribbean/African, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities may cease to be economically disadvantaged in the near future, and others may take their place.

The ill-defined categorisation of disadvantaged Britons as BAMEs has unfortunately imposed an unwanted, meaningless and incorrect identity on a large group of very different people. It has wedged a divide between whites and non-whites, and the haves and have-nots. It is sufficient to identify economically and socially disadvantaged Britons as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘disadvantaged’ or just ‘the poor’, as is usual practice in other countries.  For these reasons, it is good that the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities yesterday has announced the scrapping of the BAME term from public discourse in the UK.

*Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay is Deputy Director of the Centre for Globalisation Research and Reader in Economics. She is also the lead for the UK-wide research group, Research Circle for the Study of Inequality and Poverty.

Measuring the representativeness of social partners in Europe

By Marta Martínez and Pedro Martins

Are workers and firms well represented in social dialogue? In many countries, affiliation rates to social partners (employer associations and trade unions) have been decreasing for decades. However, social dialogue still regulates labour conditions of a significant part of firms and workers through collective agreements and, in some cases, their extensions. The result of this social dialogue generally includes conditions over wages, working time, training, and many other issues, with important effects on the labour market and the economy.

Creator: Hilch Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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