On energy, the material basis for all our politics?

Helen Thompson, podcaster and professor of political economy at Cambridge and author of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century, joins us to talk about the geopolitics of oil, stretching from the 1956 Suez Crisis to the Fracking Revolution of today. How does US energy independence help explain shifting politics in Europe and the Middle East?

Plus, did the End of History stay afloat on a sea of cheap oil?  

Part 2 of the interview, plus our After Party, is here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/251-oil-disorder-64394535

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On Millennial homeowners, the USA falling apart, and restoration in the UK.

As better-off 30-somethings start to get on the property ladder, does this put paid to 'Generation Left'? Will American decline be accompanied by a second civil war - as China serenely watches on? And does Britain represent a return to the 'End of History'? Is everything becoming boring again?
 
This is an excerpt. For the full episode, subscribe at patreon.com/bungacast

Articles:
On rising wages after the pandemic.
 
Workers are quitting their jobs and not going back. Restricted supply is seeing wages go up. Does this signal a new militancy, or are workers just deciding to make do with less? How has the pandemic shaped people's outlooks?
 
Articles:
 

The full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast

On Covid and the end of the end of history.

Adam Tooze joins us to discuss his new book, Shutdown. In 2020 everything changed... so that everything might remain the same.

What were the reasons behind the global shutdown? Was it a result of over-protection, a policy of repression, or the result of structural tensions? Has China been the winner of the pandemic? How have central banks been victims of their own success? And does this represent the end of neoliberalism?  

The latter part of the interview continues over on patreon.com/bungacast

On Chinese investment, Swiss democracy, and fleeing from Afghanistan.

In this Three Articles, we discuss flight or departure in various ways: China opening the gates for its huge savings to spill onto world markets; Switzerland leaving (or remaining outside) the EU; and the US's sudden departure from Afghanistan, without telling anyone. 

'Three Articles' episodes are normally for subscribers only - but this one's free. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast for regular access.

London book launch/bunga party: Register here

Articles:

On China, economic reform, and the future.

While Russia famously succumbed to destructive neoliberal "shock therapy", China managed to avoid it. How and why? Isabella Weber, author of How China Escaped Shock Therapy, tells us about China's opting for gradual reform instead. 

What did reform mean for understandings of socialism? Do communists make the best capitalists? And is the pursuit of growth and development at any cost China's own version of the End of History?

On consequences of the pandemic + important local election results in Spain & UK.
 
We start off by discussing the telling results of some recent local and regional elections: in the UK, Labour continues its drift to becoming a middle-class party; while in Spain, Madrid goes to the right. Podemos flops, while voters seem to endorse an anti-lockdown stance.
 
Then we get to our three articles on the consequences of the pandemic: is live-streaming complicit with power? Are liberals now anti-science? Will inflation return?
 
Three Articles:

On cash welfarism and state investment. Plus regionalism in Belgium & the UK.

Anton Jäger is back on the pod to discuss the emerging 'transfer state'. We examine Biden's massive trillion-dollar spending plans and ask if this means we're leaving neoliberalism. What are the limitations to the 'cashification of welfare'? Also comparisons with cash transfers or lack thereof in the UK, Brazil and Belgium.

Plus Anton talks us through recent Belgian history and why its immobilism and bureaucracy has actually prevented a full-on neoliberal assault. 

[Part 2 available at patreon.com/bungacast]

Readings:

Full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast 

In this latest Three Articles, we discuss cosmopolitanism, the end of austerity (maybe?) and social control in the pandemic. 

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Episode for patrons $10+. Subscribe at patreon.com/bungacast

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 

On unemployment.

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?

Running order:

  • Liz Pancotti - (04:09)
  • Aaron Benanav - (53:09)

 

Readings:

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.

Readings:

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. 

 

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In this latests Three Articles we discuss power, money and the power of money - in a post-Covid world.

 
Readings:
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
 
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