Globalization has legal underpinnings that benefit some, not all

September 17, 2014

The text cross-posted below was originally published in Critical Legal Thinking

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Why Neoliberalism’s Unregulated Global Debt System is for the Birds (and Vultures)

by  • 3 September 2014

We live in debtocracies, not democracies.

Jubilee vulture pic

An eerie sense of calm pervaded the bustling streets of Buenos Aires as local Porteños calmly went about their daily business. It was 31st July 2014 and the clock had just run out on the deadline for Argentina’s government to make a $539 million interest payment to the 93 percent of its bondholders which had agreed to debt restructuring in the years since the country’s 2001/​2 economic and political crisis. Back then Argentina had been forced to declare the largest sovereign default in world history, but with the latest deadline having been missed, the South American nation was now once again in ‘technical default’. Profound economic upheaval potentially lay in store.

If the locals’ seemingly misplaced serenity wasn’t disturbing enough, what made the situation even more Kafkaesque was that the government had already deposited the bondholders’ payment into its Bank of New York Mellon account, only to have its transfer blocked by US Judge, Thomas Griesa. This was just the latest twist in the so-​called ‘debt trial of the century’ — a lawsuit brought about by billionaire Republican Party donor Paul Singer on behalf of two hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius. These entities deliberately hoovered up cheap Argentine bonds after the 2002 collapse, then refused to renegotiate the debt terms when the country was on its knees, in the hope of making exorbitant profits out of its people’s misery. Better known as ‘vulture funds,’ they had been holding Argentina to ransom for several years by demanding the full value of the debt on which they had originally speculated.

However, the predatory practices of these funds which thrive amidst a lack of speculative regulation, have not only inflicted Read the rest of this entry »

Is economic orthodoxy anti-democracy?

August 24, 2014


How can the law help in overcoming the antidemocratic bent (see below) of orthodox economic policy? This is a topic law students should be confronting… Here are some ideas that advance in that direction.

Originally posted on Real-World Economics Review Blog:

from Peter Radford

Yes it is.

The explanation is found in the genesis of classical economics and then in its idealization of the marketplace.

At its onset the modern neo-liberal project was a search for a way of organizing civil society without that organization being imposed in what had hitherto been an overt political, that is power relationship, sense. Thus the literature in the late 1700′s is brimming with applause for what we would now call the market as a method of coordination. In contemporary thinking we seem to forget that the market back then was seen as a supreme organizing principle for all social activity since the then burgeoning economy was the major issue calling for analysis. The market was posited as an alternative to the prior traditional political problem solution to allocation because it allowed the emerging commercial class to locate itself within a social structure facing great stress…

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World student movement could become major player in the struggle to bring pluralism and freedom of inquiry to economics

August 6, 2014


The rethink of economics as a discipline (see below) is relevant for legal scholarship concerned with the economic aspects of social life and public policy . . .

Originally posted on Real-World Economics Review Blog:

from Edward Fullbrook

An emergent worldwide grassroots movement of economics students, the International Student Initiative, has the potential of becoming a major force that could work alongside the academics’ World Economics Association(now 13,000 strong) to break the neoclassical stranglehold on economics and to bring the real world back into the classroom.  Launched in May, the ISI already boasts 65 associations of economics students from 30 countries, 5 continents and representing 13 languages groups.  For the most part they are based in individual universities.  Together they constitute a coordinated grassroots base that has the potential of serving as the launch pad for a massive worldwide student rebellion in the coming academic year, one that would see 100s more of these associations formed, each focused on reforming the economics curriculum of their university.

The formation of these student associations can be greatly facilitated by encouragement and moral support from faculty…

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Dissertação estuda o Plano Nacional de Banda Larga

April 28, 2014

Amanhã (29-abril-2014), às 15h, na sala A1-04 do prédio da Faculdade de Direito (FD) da Universidade de Brasília (UnB), ocorrerá a defesa da dissertação de Daniele Kleiner Fontes. O trabalho tem o título:  “Universalização da Internet Banda Larga no Brasil: O Plano Nacional de Banda Larga sob a Perspectiva da Análise Jurídica da Política Econômica – AJPE”.

Daniele é mestranda da FD/UnB e participante do Grupo Deito, Economia e Sociedade (GDES). Desde o início de 2013, Daniele vem pesquisando o seu tema (ver aqui). O resumo da dissertação, reproduzido a seguir, dá uma ideia do trabalho realizado:

RESUMO: O Brasil busca superar seu quadro de exclusão digital por meio de uma política pública ampla para massificação do acesso ao serviço de banda larga: o Plano Nacional de Banda Larga (PNBL). Embora o PNBL seja um passo importante, ele não tem refletido as expectativas da sociedade civil, isto é, o que a sociedade compreende como adequado ou mesmo “justo” em termos de fruição de um serviço de banda larga de qualidade. Diante disso, esta dissertação procura mapear as críticas formuladas em relação ao PNBL nos diversos discursos da sociedade civil, seja por entidades da sociedade civil, seja por órgãos técnicos e governamentais, a fim de verificar possíveis falhas na política pública em questão. Utilizando-se da Read the rest of this entry »

The SPI may be useful — if handled with care

April 16, 2014

[Click here to read this post in Portuguese]

Hugo Pena, a doctoral student of the Graduate Program of the University of Brasília Law School, and a member of the LESG, offers his views on how the “Social Progress Index” can be useful to those working in the perspective of the Legal Analysis of Economic Policy.

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The Social Progress Index

By Hugo Pena

In this post I offer a short assessment of the “Social Progess Index” (SPI) and try to highlight how it may be useful (or may be a shortcoming) to legal scholars interested in the LAEP approach to legal analysis.

The LAEP approach proposes a rights-in-fruition analytical perspective. One of its analytic tools for evaluating public policy is positional analysis (see here, p. 13-18 [updated link here]), which involves decomposing rights into observable, measurable components. In both aspects, lawyers using LAEP might profit from a glance at the “Social Progress Index” (SPI) website. But the use of the SPI may also have some pitfalls.

Rights-in-fruition. Instead of measuring social progress through public expenditure in education, health or housing – regarded as “inputs” – the SPI favors “outputs”. For instance, “access to basic knowledge” is measured through adult literacy rate, primary, secondary and upper school enrollment, as well as gender parity in secondary enrollment. Countries are thus ranked in their performance in education not according to how much they spend, not even by what percentage of the budget they commit to it, but by observed results. Therefore, SPI data may be useful to legal scholars working under the LAEP approach.

Decomposing rights fruition into indicators. The SPI website might also be an inspiration for LAEP lawyers seeking ways to measure Read the rest of this entry »

O IPS pode ser útil — se manuseado com cautela

April 15, 2014

[Click here to read this post in English]

Hugo Pena, um estudante de doutorado do Programa de Pós-graduação da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Brasília e membro do GDES, oferece abaixo sua visão da utilidade que o “Índice de Progresso Social” pode ter para pesquisadores da área do direito que se interessam em trabalhar na perspectiva da Análise Jurídica da Política Econômica.

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Índice de Progresso Social  

por Hugo Pena

O objetivo deste texto é fazer breve avaliação do Índice de Progresso Social (IPS – em inglês, Social Progress Index), buscando destacar suas utilidades e limitações para juristas interessados na abordagem da AJPE.

A perspectiva da AJPE enfatiza a fruição empírica de direitos.  Uma de suas ferramentas para avaliar políticas públicas é a análise posicional (vide aqui, p. 13-18), que envolve a decomposição de direitos em componentes observáveis e mensuráveis.  Em ambos os aspectos, uma visita à página do IPS pode ser proveitosa a juristas que trabalhem com a AJPE.  O uso do IPS, no entanto, exige cautela em certos pontos.

Fruição empírica de direitos. Ao invés de medir progresso social com base nos gastos públicos em educação, saúde ou moradia – considerados “inputs” –, o índice procede com base em “outputs”.  Por exemplo, o “acesso ao conhecimento básico” é medido por uma cesta de indicadores que compreendem percentuais de alfabetização em adultos, matrículas no ensino primário, fundamental e médio, bem como paridade de gênero no acesso ao ensino médio. A classificação do desempenho em educação nos países é feita de acordo com resultados obtidos, e não a partir do quanto é gasto, nem dos percentuais reservados no orçamento.  Portanto, dados do IPS podem ser úteis a juristas que trabalhem com a AJPE.

Decomposição analítica de direitos.  A página do Índice de Progresso Social também pode servir como inspiração a juristas da AJPE que estejam procurando meios para medir a fruição de direitos em determinado setor ou tema.  O Índice envolve três Read the rest of this entry »

Dissertation elaborates legal analysis of Brazil’s Individual Microentrepreneur Program

March 20, 2014

[Click here to read this post in Portuguese]

Albério Júnio R. de Lima, a student working towards his LL.M. degree at the University of Brasília Law School and a member of the Law, Economy and Society Group (LESG) will present on March 27, 2014, his recently concluded dissertation, entitled (original in Portuguese): “The effectiveness of the Individual Microentrepreneur Program, in the perspective of the Legal Analysis of Economic Policy, with a focus on the right to production” (download — text in Portuguese)

Index of Empirical Effectiveness (IEE)

Index of Empirical Effectiveness (IEE)

Albério’s dissertation exemplifies how the legal analysis of economic policies may be enriched and benefit from conceptual innovation by using reconstructed analytical categories such as those described and discussed in publications and activities of the LESG. In his dissertation, Albério analyzed several aspects of the policy he selected as a focus of empirical investigation (the Individual Microentrepreneur Program — IMP, introduced by federal law in Brazil and managed by experts of the Brazilian federal government). Albério also elaborated an “index of empirical effectiveness” (see image above) of the right to commercial property of program-affiliated individual microentrepreneurs in Brazil.

The abstract of the dissertation is as follows:

 ABSTRACT: In a globalized world, characterized by constant transformation, legal analysis must be involved in the processes that promote change in the structure of society. Legal analysis must therefore partake in economic development. This means that, under conditions of globalization, it is important that empirically grounded legal arguments be elaborated in order to assist in the reform of public policies. Given the fact that labor markets have been affected by globalization, the International Organization of Labor and the Mercosur have been engaged in debates about issues such as unemployment rates and labor informality. As a consequence of these debates, Read the rest of this entry »


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