Introduction – There is little doubt that, in the last hundred years or so, progress has been made in lifting more people out of extreme poverty (World Bank 2020). Yet, considerable economic inequalities both within and between nations persists and, as recent work has shown, if the rate of return on capital surpasses the rate of growth, inherited wealth will grow faster than earned wealth (Piketty 2014, p. 1). Together, these inequalities contribute to radically different life chances for people around the world. For some it means multiple mansions, private jets, hundred-foot yachts and access to life-saving technologies, while for a substantial portion of humanity it means a daily struggle just to survive or maintain a livelihood. However, why this radical inequality exists is not altogether clear and is much debated in the academic literature and popular press (Atkinson 2015; Di Muzio 2015a, 2015b; Milanovic 2016; Stiglitz 2016). Moreover, some view economic inequality as natural and beneficial since it is reasoned that the less well-off will want to emulate the wealthy and thus work harder to achieve their goals. However, is gross inequality rooted in human nature or is it the result of certain ways of organizing society and certain policy choices regarding the human economy? While it cannot possibly canvass the enormous literature on capitalism, money and inequality, this chapter will suggest that it is the latter by considering the important relationship between capitalism and money to explain the persistence of economic inequality in our world. The chapter also asks what can be
done to lessen global economic inequalities once we gain a deeper appreciation of the relationship between capitalism, money and inequality. I will argue that it is too often forgotten that, while economic growth over the last three centuries has lifted many people out of extreme poverty, that capitalism is primarily an economic, monetary and accounting system whose very aim is to generate income and wealth inequality,
not level the economic playing field. To explore this argument and examine potential solutions to lessening financial inequality, this chapter is divided into three main sections. In the first section, the chapter provides an explanation for the historical rise of capitalism, what constitutes capitalism as a specific politico–economic system and how economically unequal our world is today. In the second part of this chapter, a theoretical analysis of how we might consider the relationship between capitalism, money and inequality is developed. In the final section, the chapter explores what is to be done about economic inequality from both mainstream and radical perspectives and argues that there are indeed some plausible public policy initiatives that would work towards achieving objective 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
academia.edu/pdf – gg/pdf 2017 An Anthropology of Money: A Critical Introduction by Tim Di Muzio, Richard H. Robbins
An Anthropology of Money: A Critical Introduction shows how our present monetary system was imposed by elites and how they benefit from it. The book poses the question: how, by looking at different forms of money, can we appreciate that they have different effects? The authors demonstrate how modern money requires perpetual growth, an increase in inequality, environmental devastation, increasing commoditization, and, consequently, the perpetual consumption of ever more stuff. These are not intrinsic features of money, but, rather, of debt-money. This text shows that, through studying money in other cultures, we can have money
that better serves the broader goals of society.
academia.edu – gg/pdf 2017 The Coming Revolution in Political Economy: Money Creation, Mankiw and Misguided Macroeconomic – by Tim Di Muzio
The aim of this article is to challenge one of the principal received truths in the field of Economics: the way that new money is created. We also aim to go further and argue that a proper understanding of how new money is created has such devastating consequences that it heralds no less than a coming revolution in how we understand political economy and future possibilities. Our main argument is that the received truth of the fractional reserve theory or ‘money multiplier’ model taught in most economics textbooks cannot explain the expansion of the money supply by logic, simple math and by basic bank accounting practices. To demonstrate our argument we rely on Mankiw’s ‘Macroeconomics’ and his chapter explaining to students how new money is created. We use Professor Mankiw’s textbook because of its widespread use as an introductory text to macroeconomics. Our second argument is that the vast majority of new money is actually created by banks when they make loans. ..
blogs.lse.co.uk 11-2016 Book Review by Rose Deller
In the new collection Energy, Capitalism and World Order: Towards a New Agenda in International Political Economy, editors Tim Di Muzio and Jesse Salah Ovadia bring together contributors to examine the relationship between energy, capitalism and the world order in light of pressing and emergent issues such as fracking, biofuels and climate change. While more attention on the diverse challenges faced by different political economies would have been welcome, this collection presents lucid analyses and grounded case studies that will be of use to scholars, students and policymakers, finds Donn David P. Ramos.
Increased global concern about the use of finite natural resources as well as the predominance of climate change discourse have brought about changes in how stakeholder energy is viewed today. With contributors coming from diverse fields, the collection Energy, Capitalism and World Order: Toward a New Agenda in International Political Economy presents a combination of perspectives to reveal how International Political Economy (IPE) ‘has largely neglected to provide any deep theorisation and historically situated analysis of the relationship between energy, capitalism and the remaking of the world order’ (1).
With this as a backdrop, editors Tim Di Muzio and Jesse Salah Ovadia highlight the interconnected themes of this account: (1) Energy, Capitalism, and International Theory, dealing with the theorisation of the international context, utilising energy and capitalism as interconnected analysis; (2) Energy, Capitalism and the (Re)making of World Order, which explores energy, capitalism and their relationship to the making and remaking of the world order; and (3) Energy, Capitalism and the 21st Century, which deals with critical moments in twenty-first-century capitalism, including issues like biofuel, tar sands and hydraulic fracturing revolutions.
In the first chapter, ‘IPE and the Unfashionable Problematic of Capital and Energy’, Di Muzio revisits the conceptualisation of capital and capitalism from various theoretical standpoints in order to contextualise the energy issue. He explains that ‘IPE has generally been blind to the importance of energy for explaining uneven patterns of historical development and likely future trajectory of the global political economy’ (29). He then develops a critique of this relative lack of theorisation of energy in political economy literature as it is conceptualised now. The reader may initially agree with the contention and acknowledge the need for a deeper exploration of the issues at hand; however, what was expected is further articulation of how current IPE theories can be modified then applied, as well as to what extent newer theories can be formulated, to explain the intermingling of energy and political economy.
Following the diverse conceptual and theoretical accounts in Part One, specific cases are presented in Part Two to emphasise how IPE can delve into ‘the importance of energy in its analysis and accounts of world order making and everyday life’ (23-24). These chapters highlight different dimensions like oil and capitalist development (one in the general context of the Global South, with another focusing on the Venezuelan experience), the exiting North American Energy Bloc as well as the issue of low-carbon transition in the context of the political economy of climate change.
Regarding the latter topic, in ‘The Political Economy of (Climate) Change: Low-Carbon Energy Transitions’, with climate change as a global environmental issue of the current world order, the interconnection between capitalism and the transition to low-carbon energy is ably examined. In analysing these conditions, Peter Newell stresses the ‘many political economies of climate change’ (130), and the importance of incorporating ‘shifts in power relations and geo-politics produced by globalisation and what these mean for collective efforts to tackle climate change’ (133-34). Yet, the corresponding risks with the effects of climate change – even with the introduction of low-carbon energy transitions – were not fully explored, and may leave the reader craving more. Moreover, what was glossed over are the current and future challenges faced by developing countries that are still trying to achieve industrialisation despite the trend towards low-carbon energy transition. In spite of these limitations, the chapter – in theory and in practice – could stand alone as a book in itself, especially with its corresponding recommendations in addressing the climate change juggernaut, like introducing change in the energy order and being catalysts in shaping a world founded on social justice and environmental stewardship for future generations.
Accordingly, the last chapter, ‘Critical IPE, the Open Range and the Illusion of the Epoch’, presents the most appropriate conclusion for the collection. Di Muzio explains that: “…energy problems – whether they are theorised by the mainstream perspective as potential wars or conflicts or in terms of opportunities for greater cooperation – are not going away anytime soon, nor is the geological fact that fossil fuels are ultimately non-renewable on a human time scale…”(202).
The different accounts and arguments that Energy, Capitalism and the World Order provides are a demonstration of the editors’ and contributors’ shared capacity to grapple with the dynamic interplay of energy and the future of the world order in the context of global capitalism. What seems lacking is that, among the three thematic areas of the collection, the political economy of energy structures and a more grounded and newer theorisation of this vis-à-vis their relationship with the future of a capitalist world order are not fully explored: it would have been clearer if the book showed how the multiple political economies of developed and developing countries respond to their specific contexts in order to address their divergent energy conditions and resource requirements.
This notwithstanding, Energy, Capitalism and World Order presents lucid analyses, grounded cases and pinpointed interpretations that deal with IPE’s limited scholarship on energy and social transformation. As the editors convey in the introduction: ‘while advanced capitalist countries focus attention on the global political economy of energy in order to begin to address the contradictions of democracy and carbon capitalism, foregrounding energy in the political-economic analysis of development and underdevelopment in the global south produces very different but no less important questions for understanding energy, capitalism and world order’ (11). The book will be helpful for readers in academic fields like development studies, history, geography, international relations, political science, public administration and even sociology. It may also be of interest to practitioners in the energy sector, policy experts, government and the public sector, as well as other experts who want to examine energy and its relationship with capitalism and the future world order through the prism of international political economy.
Foreword by Gurminder K Bhambra – “Debt” is a seemingly universal and constant aspect of human experience and history. However, the social practices and economic structures that are involved need to be understood through the global interconnections that give form to its historical instantiations as well as its contemporary manifestations. This is the compelling claim of Tim Di Muzio and Richard H. Robbin’s book Debt as Power and, as such, fits perfectly into the Theory for a Global Age series that seeks to take “global interconnections” as the basis from which to rethink both conceptual frameworks and commonly held understandings. In Debt as Power, Di Muzio and Robbins present a historical account of the modern origins of capitalist debt by looking at how commercial money is produced as debt in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. They expertly demonstrate their key contention—that debt is a technology of power—and identify the ways in which the control, production, and distribution of money, as interest-bearing debt, are used to discipline populations. Their sharp analysis brings together histories of the development of the Bank of England and the establishment of permanent national debt with the intensification and expansion of debt, as a “technology of power”, under colonialism in a global context. The latter part of the book addresses the consequences of modern regimes of debt and puts forward proposals of what needs to be done, politically, to reverse the problems generated by debt-based economies. The final chapter presents a convincing case for the 99% to use the power of debt to challenge present inequalities and outlines a platform for action suggesting possible alternatives. This ambitious book is both a diagnosis of our current social and economic global condition structured by the debt–credit nexus and a clarion call to action. Action is necessary if we are to overturn the manifold miseries associated with debt and bring about a more equal distribution, not only of wealth, but also of societal well-being. It is possible, as Di Muzio and Robbins forcefully argue, that the very survival of humanity depends on it.
Liberal capitalist polities are being held up as the ultimate civilizational achievement precisely at a point in time when the energy-demanding built environments and growth imperatives of these societies are threatened by global climate change and the coming end of cheap and abundant carbon energy. Throughout the twentieth century, this pattern of energy-intensive social reproduction was largely shaped by the oil and gas sector creating what I call a petro-market civilization. However, given the challenges presented by peak oil and global warming, transitioning to a low-carbon or green energy future has gathered increasing attention and investment. In this paper, I use a power theory of value approach to offer a preliminary assessment of whether this transition is likely given the entrenched power of the oil and gas sector in the economy. Although the twenty-first century may bear witness to a renewable and sustainable energy paradigm, current evidence suggests that investors are continuing to capitalize an unsustainable future premised upon non-renewable fossil fuels.
youtube 2015 Carbon Caoitalism Energy as a factor of production has been seriously neglected in political economy. In this eye-opening book, 20th century carbon capitalism emerges through lucid histories of England and the US, histories which reveal that power, debt, war, and energy have led to the crises of the 21st century: climate change, permanent war economies, and global environmental destruction. This book will prove an indispensable scholarly navigational tool to understand and act on these crises. – Barbara Harriss-White University of Oxford