The Perils of an Uneven Global Recovery

Heightened global economic risks mean that many poorer countries could take years to return to their pre-pandemic growth trajectories. And if higher inflation leads the US Federal Reserve to raise rates somewhat sooner than it currently plans, emerging markets will be hit particularly hard.

Economic recovery, like COVID-19 vaccines, will not be evenly distributed around the world over the coming two years. Despite enormous policy support provided by governments and central banks, the economic risks remain profound, and not just to frontier economies facing imminent debt problems and low-income countries experiencing an alarming rise in poverty. With the coronavirus far from tamed, populism rife, global debt at record levels, and policy normalization likely to be uneven, the situation remains precarious.


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Elite Business Networks and the Field of Power: A Matter of Class?

We explore the meaning and implications of Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power and integrate it into a wider conception of the formation and functioning of elites at the highest level in society. Corporate leaders active within the field of power hold prominent roles in numerous organizations, constituting an ‘elite of elites’, whose networks integrate powerful participants from different fields. As ‘bridging actors’, they form coalitions to determine institutional settlements and societal resource flows. We ask how some corporate actors (minority) become hyper-agents, those actors who ‘make things happen’, while others (majority) remain ‘ordinary’ members of the elite. Three hypotheses are developed and tested using extensive data on the French business elite. Social class emerges as persistently important, challenging the myth of meritocratic inclusion. Our primary contribution to Bourdieusian scholarship lies in our analysis of hyper-agents, revealing the debts these dominants owe to elite schools and privileged classes.


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Outsourcing the State: New Sources of Elite Power

This article uses the example of public sector outsourcing to explore how elite power can be fallible. A contract between the state and private companies represents a complex interweaving of different kinds of power with uncertain outcomes: the experience of outsourcing in the UK and elsewhere is that it frequently goes wrong, with fiascos creating political embarrassment for states and financial problems for companies. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, the article explores how the contract is a political device that can be both tool and weapon but which has uncertain outcomes. In doing so, it makes a distinctive contribution by arguing that elite work is often about repair and managing the political or financial consequences of failure.


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Philanthrocapitalism as wealth management strategy among the global elite

In the resurgence of interest in inheritance flows following the publication of Piketty’s work, little attention has been paid to the affective practices that ensure the success of inheritance processes as wealth moves down generations of dynastic families. This article explores these practices, drawing on research among wealth managers, philanthropy advisors, family offices and their clients, to show how philanthropy is promoted by advisors to the wealthy as a tool to support inheritance and family business succession planning. In this process, advisors draw on the philanthropic imagination to style wealthy families as custodians of both private capital and the common good, thus mirroring the narratives used by philanthrocapitalists to legitimise their wealth in the public sphere. Here, however, the discourse of philanthrocapitalism is turned inwards to the private realm of the family, to persuade younger generations to rally around the collective project of the custodianship of wealth. By bringing together research on philanthropy and inheritance, this article contributes to the growing sociological literature on elites and the global inequalities driven by their accumulation of wealth. It shows how wealth accumulation is increasingly dependent not only on the mechanics of financial markets and inheritance flows, but also on affective wealth management strategies framed around ethical notions of kinship and social responsibility.


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Engels@200: Friedrich Engels in the Age of Digital Capitalism

This piece is the special issue “Engels@200: Friedrich Engels in the Age of Digital Capitalism” that the journal tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique published on the occasion of Friedrich Engels’s 200th birthday on 28 November 2020. The introduction introduces Engels’s life and works and gives an overview of the special issue’s contributions.

Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November 1820 in Barmen, a city in North RhineWestphalia, Germany, that has since 1929 formed a district of the city Wuppertal. In the early 19th century, Barmen was one of the most important manufacturing centres in the German-speaking world. He was the child of Elisabeth Franziska Mauritia Engels (1797-1873) and Friedrich Engels senior (1796-1860). The Engels family was part of the capitalist class and operated a business in the cotton manufacturing industry, which was one of the most important industries. In 1837, Engels senior created a business partnership with Peter Ermen called Ermen & Engels. The company operated cotton mills in Manchester (Great Britain) and Engelskirchen (Germany).


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The political economy of Covid-19

Governments around the world are attempting to prop up a failing capitalist system by — surprise! — throwing money at wealthy individuals and corporations, especially in the financial industry. In other words, in this time of unprecedented crisis and economic difficulty, it’s business as usual.

Although more direct aid for working people is being included this time around — given the crisis of neoliberalism and that the massive subsidies to the same financiers responsible for the crash of the economy in 2008 haven’t been forgotten, political leaders had no choice but to sweeten the pot a little — the overwhelming majority of the money dispensed is going to the financial industry and to large corporations. Again it must be asked: How much more useful would it have been to use this money for practical needs and direct payments to people instead of propping up a bloated and wasteful financial system? More directly, how long can the peoples of the world continue to believe that a system in crisis so frequently and requires such massive bailouts works?


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Democracy and the Politics of Coronavirus: Trust, Blame and Understanding

This article explores the relationship between crises and democracy through a focus on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. Its central argument is that to interpret the current pandemic purely in terms of its epidemiology and public health implications risks overlooking its potentially more significant socio-political consequences. This is because the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis have themselves become overlaid or layered-upon a pre-existing set of concerns regarding the performance, efficiency and capacity of democratic political structures. The aim of this article is to try and understand and warn against what might be termed a rather odd form of cross-contamination whereby the cynicism, negativity and frustration concerning politicians, political processes and political institutions that existed before the coronavirus outbreak is allowed to direct, define and automatically devalue how democratic structures are subsequently judged in terms of how they responded to the challenge. As such, this article focuses on the link between the Coronavirus crisis and the democratic crisis; or, more precisely, the risk that the Coronavirus crisis may mutate into and fuel a broader crisis of democracy.


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How working from home is changing our economy forever

The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home, safely locked away with your previously disinfected computer which connects you to a world that is innocuous because it’s virtual and therefore harmless. What makes you sick lurks outside your door. The fear of what we know to be real, but which only materializes in suspicion, is enough to keep us locked away. This individual sensation of anguish in the face of a threat leads to voluntary confinement and that is the success of social control. Fear is used as a disciplinary device.


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The Race Between Economics and COVID-19

For years, the economics profession has suffered from a stubborn reluctance to adopt a more multidisciplinary approach. But now that the COVID-19 pandemic is transforming economic life the world over, the profession has no choice but to leave its comfort zone.


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Factors that will determine the economic impact of coronavirus

The worst economic effects will be caused by containment measures in directly affected countries. Economic outlooks are being slashed. Gauging the economic destruction is challenging given the highly uncertain and dynamic nature of this public health crisis. How bad the economic damage will rest on the extent of the global spread and duration of the disruption.


Read also: Coronavirus pushes oil towards the abyss

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