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In this latest Three Articles, we discuss cosmopolitanism, the end of austerity (maybe?) and social control in the pandemic.
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This month we discuss Polish economist Michal Kalecki's landmark essay, "Political Aspects of Full Employment". This follows on from our recent free episode, 'It's Not Robots, It's Capitalism' (ep 149) focusing on unemployment.
Kalecki anticipated both the Keynesian postwar settlement as well as its undoing, and the neoliberalism that followed. We focus on how Kalecki introduces the question of political authority into economics.
For reference, the next five Reading Clubs have already been announced: https://www.patreon.com/posts/41524278
The Covid crisis has led to millions out of work - but the situation was none too rosy before, either. Post-crisis recoveries seem increasingly 'jobless', while the overall labour force participation rate keeps falling as people drop out entirely.
We interview to Liz Pancotti of Employ America for a picture of what's driving US unemployment.
Then we talk to Aaron Benanav about his new book and learn that it's not robots who are stealing jobs, but rather capitalism's own stagnation. Why are both radical Keynesian ideas and UBI proposals no real solution? And, finally, what is the working class to do in a world with depressed demand for labour?
- Liz Pancotti - (04:09)
- Aaron Benanav - (53:09)
On US foreign policy.
Following on from our episode on the political-economy of dollar hegemony (no. 139), we turn to look at how the dollar underpins American empire. Is 'permawar' a product of structural factors, rather than merely the result of poor policy decisions? And how is this related to the global financial architecture?
We also discuss how the current period fits into US history, how US foreign policy might evolve over the next four years, and what a left-wing alternative foreign policy might look like.
On dollar hegemony.
Dutch disease has long been seen as the curse of resource-rich economies in which a currency appreciates and jobs are lost overseas. But what if the greenback is having the same effects on the US economy, the largest in the world? Many historians and economists have studied the global effects of having the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. But what is the effect on the US economy itself? The authors of an influential essay on this question join us to talk about the feedback effects of dollar hegemony.
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has been hailed by some and scorned by others as offering a new framework to understand the financial system. But what is specifically 'modern' about MMT, and how does it differ from rival accounts of the financial economy? We talk to Bill Mitchell, one of the leading proponents of MMT, who gives us an introductory rundown, plus tells us why the Japanese economy is unfairly maligned and explains what the future has in store for MMT as its inexorably advances against orthodox rivals.
-> Our earlier episode with Doug Henwood, a critic of MMT, can be found here: Episode 68
-> The episode with Bill Mitchell's co-author, Thomas Fazi, is here: Episode 38
On the 30 years since 1989.
For our 100th episode, we invited our favourite guests to reflect on the question: “What one event, personal or political, most captures for you the past thirty years, since 1989?”
Are we still living in the death throes of the 20th century, or is something new emerging?
- (00:07:42) - Maren Thom
- (00:14:14) - David Broder
- (00:21:33) - Ashley Frawley
- (00:26:11) - Catherine Liu
- (00:33:05) - Angela Nagle
- (00:40:49) - Benjamin Fogel
- (00:46:25) - Alex Gourevitch
- (00:51:31) - BungaCast hosts
- (00:59:22) - David Adler
- (01:04:05) - Amber A’Lee Frost
- (01:08:48) - James Heartfield
- (01:16:17) - Anton Jaeger
- (01:23:24) - Leigh Phillips
- (01:30:25) - Lee Jones
- (01:36:03) - Karl Sharro
On Modern Monetary Theory. Doug Henwood joins us to discuss whether MMT offers a fiscal alternative for Left governments. What is monetary sovereignty and do all states have it? What are MMT's prospects for states as different as the USA, Nigeria or Brazil? Is it a suspect economic remedy, too much of a quick fix? Are MMT proponents guilty of avoiding political confrontation?
Modern Monetary Theory Isn’t Helping, Doug Henwood, Jacobin
MMT Is Already Helping, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Jacobin
Modern Money Theory 101: A Reply to Critics (pdf), Éric Tymoigne and L. Randall Wray
Modern Money Theory (MMT) vs. Structural Keynesianism, Thomas Palley
What Is Modern Monetary Theory and Why Is It So Important to the Green New Deal?, Jacob Weindling, Paste Magazine
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On 'Corbynomics'. We talk to James Meadway, former advisor to the UK's Shadow Chancellor, about what a Corbyn government could and should do. What is the scope for manoeuver of a Left Government in 2019? What does a British 'Green New Deal' look like? And we talk Brexit, because of course.
#BungaLive is this Thursday (21 March) in London - reserve your ticket now: bungacast.eventbrite.com
On democratic planning. Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski propose we look at Walmart and other giant corporations as sites of planning, not of markets -- and that this fact proves planning works. Rather than rely on markets and market actors to manage production and distribution, we should it ourselves. Do advances in computing mean that the old problems of planning have been overcome? Does planning lead to authoritarianism -- or does authoritarianism lead to bad planning? Can we overcome the age of Capitalist Übermenschen?
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Bunga theme music: Jonny Mundey
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On the cult of the entrepreneur. Alex Gourevitch talks to us about the "special kinds of assholes we get in our economy" and the dangers of the heroic capitalist icon. How does the earlier ideal of meritocracy differ from entrepreneurship as an ethos? Does celebrating the special creative genius of the disruptor actually mean glorifying tyranny?
Plus: the right to strike, domination in the workplace, and campy Trump.
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Bunga theme music: Jonny Mundey
Bunga design: ramune.io
In which we discuss why the Left should not to be scared of sovereignty: Brexit, Italexit, and Modern Monetary Theory
Bonus! In which Leigh stays with us to discuss innovation, automation, UBI... & why the wages are too damn low.