A new wave of critical legal scholarship focusing on political economy themes is more than welcome

November 16, 2017

The members of the LESG will be interested in a new project that seems to be blossoming into a movement known by the name “Law and Political Economy” (LPE). Ideas that may count as a “manifesto” of the movement are available here.

Connections of  LPE ideas with legacies taken up from Legal Realism and from CLS are highlighted in the post by K Sabeel Rahman, which is reblogged below. (The original post is available here).

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Law, Political Economy, and the Legal Realist Tradition Revisited

Editors Note: Paragraphs 7 and 10 of this post have been updated to more accurately reflect the legacy of CLS and its relevance for LPE today.

K. Sabeel Rahman — 

As David, Amy, and Jed note in their opening post, the economic, social, political, and ecological crises of the current moment are helping fuel an exciting wave of legal scholarship. This emerging trend, the “law and political economy” (LPE) approach, interrogates the relationships between law, politics, and economics, exploring issues of power, inequality, democracy, and social change. As we explore what this approach might mean and what its implications might be, it is important to situate these inquiries in a larger history of legal scholarship and reform politics. This is not the first time that a similar moment of crisis has helped spur creative new thinking about the relationships between law, capitalism, and democracy—and it won’t be the last. In this post, I want to sketch a particular aspect of this trajectory: the long legacy of legal realism and its relationship to our current debates around law and political economy.

This legacy is important for two reasons. First, now, as then, we face a similar period of socioeconomic upheaval and political conflict, prompting us to rethink our legal structures. As a result, the substantive insights of legal realism remain valuable for an LPE approach today. Second, recalling the trajectory of legal realism and its successor intellectual movements is helpful in highlighting the kinds of tensions and questions that an LPE approach will have to continue to address.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ha-Joon Chang: áudio ilustrado com animação visual

October 1, 2016

O conhecido economista Ha-Joon Chang, radicado na Universidade de Cambridge, Inglaterra, oferece aos seus leitores (e ouvintes) uma palestra instigante, em que diversos “mitos” sobre a disciplina da Economia são desfeitos. A palestra, que versa sobre conteúdos de seu livro intitulado Economics: The User’s Guide, é ilustrada com o auxílio de uma animação visual, apresentada em vídeo (ver abaixo).

Para Chang, por exemplo, a Economia não deve ser tratada como uma ciência acessível a poucos especialistas. Segundo Chang, 95% do que a Economia é correspondem algo como juízos práticos razoáveis (common sense). As ideias a que correspondem esse “common sense”, contudo, são – de acordo com Chang – apresentadas por muitos economistas por Read the rest of this entry »

With an eye towards understanding recent developments in legal analysis, 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]

– – – – – – – – – – – –

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 »

Globalization has legal underpinnings that benefit some, not all

September 17, 2014

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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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.

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 post 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

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 . . .

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 post 1,696 more words

O direito concreto em debate

March 14, 2014

Muitas vezes, os tribunais superiores em Brasília adotam decisões sobre questões de crucial importância, que são superficialmente analisadas nos jornais. Por vezes, são adotados argumentos insólitos (muitos com base em formalismos autorreferenciados), ou extremamente polêmicos, e que mereceriam ser debatidos com acuidade e equilíbrio, mas acabam “passando em branco” para a maioria da população brasileira. Não obstante, frequentemente, as inevitáveis consequências econômicas de tais decisões, permanecem e impactam a realidade, sem que o público tenha tido chance de realmente apreciar aspectos importantes do que — e por que — foi decidido.

O ditado segundo o qual “o que os tribunais decidem, cumpre-se, não se discute” não deve ser completamente válido em uma democracia. É preciso analisar, discutir, debater – e criteriosamente avaliar, sempre que for preciso – o resultado da atividade dos tribunais judiciais. Estes órgãos não devem ser considerados oráculos de sabedoria sagrada, mas devem ser tomados, sim, como partícipes do debate que deve impulsionar as mudanças da ordem social, econômica e política nas democracias, contribuindo para a construção do que se considera ser uma sociedade justa. Um exemplo internacional de um debate desse tipo pode ser visto na polêmica recentemente suscitada por uma decisão do tribunal constitucional alemão sobre aspectos da política econômica de seu país e da União Européia (ver aqui , aqui e aqui)

A coluna reproduzida abaixo (do Blog do Estadão), de autoria de Mario Schapiro, sem dúvida, constitui uma contribuição no sentido apontado, tendo como mote, o caso de indenização judicialmente condedida à Varig.

Varig, Planos Econômicos e as Incertezas do Passado

A decisão do STF sobre o caso Varig fez lembrar a frase do ex-Ministro Pedro Malan: “no Brasil até o passado é incerto”. Mais de vinte anos depois da proposição de uma ação judicial, voltada a discutir perdas inflacionárias sofridas pela empresa aérea, o STF decidiu nesta semana que a União deve compensar a empresa, que aliás já nem opera mais.
O valor da indenização ainda será apurado, mas a indicação é de que o montante fique na casa de alguns bilhões de reais. Não é pouco, sobretudo se se tiver em conta a pressão vivida pelo Governo Federal para apertar os cintos. Faz pouco mais de um mês que o atual Ministro da Fazenda, Guido Mantega, veio a público para se comprometer com o futuro: garantiu que o país fará uma economia da ordem de 1,9% do PIB este ano. Como seu antecessor, para a atingir essa meta, Mantega vai ter de driblar os desafios do presente, mas também as incertezas do passado. E elas não são poucas e podem aumentar. Nas próximas semanas, o STF deve julgar um caso semelhante, discutindo perdas inflacionárias no setor bancário. TAM e Vasp disseram que pretendem cobrar da União as mesmas perdas que a Varig ganhou.
Fora da economia e das contas públicas, há duas questões aí que importam Read the rest of this entry »