With an eye towards understanding recent developments in legal analysis, a recent paper discusses institutionalist approaches to economic matters (in Portuguese)

March 27, 2015

[this is a free translation by Hugo Pena – to read the original post in Portuguese, click here]

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A few months ago, Hugo Pena and Marcio Valadares published a paper titled “Contemporary legal instances in the institutionalist literature on development” (available in Portuguese only – link here). The work is a contribution by two researchers of the LESG in which they explore the issue of how to intellectually frame relations between law and economics given the present context of fierce contestation of economic “orthodoxy’.

In the past, “old-institutionalist” discussions by Veblen, Commons and Mitchell, and also concerns typical of the “Historical School” and G.F. List, have stirred debates about economic issues and institutions. However, in the first decades of the 20th century the interest in institutions waned among scholars leading the trend towards the formation of the so-called “science” of economics and its typical “neo-classical” orientation. The set of notions about economic matters presented by the “neo-classical” approach became hegemonic both in the academic and professionals spheres, stemming from a process that evolved steadily since Alfred Marshall founded the school of the “Cambridge Neo-Classicals”.

Curiously enough, since the 1950s and 1960s, the focus on “institutions”, historically understood, gained ground in economic studies, though initially relying heavily on a combination of neo-classical price theory with statistics and econometrics, as proposed by Cliometrics. It was from this point onwards that the contrast between the “old” and the “new” institutionalisms became relevant in the study of economic issues.  Moreover, “new” institutionalism itself was later split in two perspectives: one being more historical in character (a field that was largely developed – and became dominated – by the works of D. North and his collaborators); another, which has developed its research around the notion of “transaction costs” (and here the works of O. Williamson, who has proposed to overcome what he sees as limitations of R. Coase’s approach, have been used to frame much of the debate).

Recently, many other authors, including E. ReinertHa-Joon Chang and D. Acemoglu, out of a variety of influences, have also brought the concern with institutions to the center of debates about economic issues. To these developments may be added ideas of political scientists working on the boundary between their discipline and economics, while adopting diverse assumptions.

This is certainly the larger background of the discussions, analyses and interpretations offered by Read the rest of this entry »


Com interesse na análise jurídica, artigo discute abordagens institucionalistas da economia

March 23, 2015

[click here to read this post in English]

Hugo Pena e Marcio Valadares há poucos meses publicaram o artigo com o título: “Desdobramentos Jurídicos Contemporâneos na Literatura Institucionalista sobre Desenvolvimento” (link aqui). Trata-se de uma contribuição de pesquisadores do GDES sobre uma temática desafiadora para a questão de como se pensar as relações entre direito e economia, num contexto em que a chamada “ortodoxia” econômica tem sido intensamente contestada.

Embora, no passado, abordagens como a do chamado “antigo institucionalismo” de Veblen,  Commons e Mitchell, bem como a da “Escola Histórica” e G. F. List tenham alimentado debates entre economistas, nas primeiras décadas do século XX, a preocupação com instituições deixou de ser um assunto prestigiado entre os que propulsionaram a evolução da chamada “ciência” econômica em sua configuração “neo-clássica”. Foi o conjunto de noções sobre a economia típica da abordagem “neo-clássica” que se tornou a doutrina hegemônica, acadêmica e profissionalmente, entre economistas, num processo que se desdobrou desde que Alfred Marshall fundou a escola dos “Cambridge Neo-Classicals”. Curiosamente, a partir dos anos 1950 e 1960, o tema das “instituições”, vistas historicamente, penetrou a disciplina da economia, mas a partir de um ângulo fornecido inicialmente pela combinação da teoria neo-clássica dos preços com a econometria estatística, uma combinação capitaneada pela Cliometria. Foi a partir daí que se tornou importante o contraste entre o “antigo” institucionalismo e o “novo”, no estudo de temas econômicos. Além disso, o próprio “novo” institucionalismo dividiu-se mais tarde em duas vertentes, sendo uma de caráter mais histórico (um campo que tem como referência de destaque os trabalhos e visões de D. North e seus colaboradores), e outra, que procura estruturar suas pesquisa a partir da noção de “custos de transação” (e aqui os trabalhos de O. Williamson, propondo ultrapassar o que o autor enxerga como limites da abordagem de R. Coase, têm servido para orientar boa parte dos debates).

Mais recentemente, vários outros autores, incluindo E. Reinert, Ha-Joon Chang, D. Acemoglu, a partir de diversas influências, também trouxeram a preocupação com instituições para o centro das discussões sobre assuntos econômicos. A esse quadro ainda se acrescentam ideias de cientistas políticos que trabalham na fronteira entre a sua disciplina e a economia, com base em diversos (e por vezes antagônicos ) pressupostos.

Esse é, de certo modo, o pano de fundo das discussões, análises e interpretações oferecidas por Hugo e Marcio. O resumo do seu trabalho é o seguinte:

O artigo objetiva situar desdobramentos jurídicos contemporâneos no debate sobre desenvolvimento com duas vertentes da literatura institucionalista, caracterizada como literatura dos ambientes institucionais e dos arranjos institucionais. Num primeiro momento, o texto diferencia abordagens “de mercado” e abordagens “institucionalistas” acerca do desenvolvimento. Em seguida, apresenta os principais contornos das abordagens dos ambientes institucionais, com foco nas ideias de Douglass North, e dos arranjos institucionais, voltando a atenção a contribuições de Ha-Joon Chang e de Peter Evans. Em seguida, procede-se à descrição dos principais contornos da Análise Econômica do Direito, do Novo Direito e Desenvolvimento e da Análise Jurídica Econômica, que são perspectivas jurídicas interdisciplinares sobre instituições e desenvolvimento. Dado que o desenvolvimento é multifacetado, a contribuição que o artigo propõe apresentar é a aproximação de debates que se desenrolam em áreas diferentes, e em especial, promover contatos entre perspectivas econômicas e jurídicas acerca do papel das instituições no desenvolvimento.

O trabalho de Hugo e Marcio certamente interessará aos demais membros do GDES, além dos que procuram se situar diante do desafio de perceber antigas relações (ou a falta delas) – e a construção de novas – entre o direito como abordagem institucional e a economia, em especial a economia de mercado contemporânea.


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

marcusfaro:

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…

View original 1,135 more words


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

August 6, 2014

marcusfaro:

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…

View original 1,696 more words


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 »


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