02 October 2017
Researchers in political economy meet at the HWR Berlin
380 Participants from all across Europe, including Turkey and Russia, with many others from the Americas, Asia and Africa gathered at HWR Berlin for the 8th Annual Conference in Political Economy, “The Political Economy of Inequalities and Instabilities in the 21st Century”.
The conference was co-organized by The International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE), the Critical Political Economy Research Network (CPERN) and HWR’s Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
In the opening plenary, James Galbraith, Professor at the University of Austin, Texas presented the results of a major multi-year study of global inequality. This showed that inequality had declined for several decades, principally due to developments in Asia, but that in the last decade, as income differentials widened in many countries, global inequality has been rising.
Sue Himmelweit, Professor at the Open University and a Member of the British Womens’ Budget Group, showed how National Income Accounts would be dramatically changed if unpaid domestic labour was taken into account. She argued that a macroeconomic policy oriented to promoting jobs in the ‘caring sector’ rather than manufacturing would create more jobs, above all for women but also for men, as well as having a highly desirable environmental impact.
Most presented were papers in 12 parallel workshops. The plenary on the second day was concerned with Capitalism since the Great Recession. Among other speakers, Thomas Sablowski from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung outlined the forces which led to the crisis in 2008-09, and then showed how many of these forces have in no way been overcome.
The final plenary was concerned with the response of social movements to the crisis in Europe. Mariana Mortagua, a member of the Portuguese parliament for the relatively new Left Bloc, explained why Portugal had been hit especially harshly be the recent crisis and the deep cuts introduced by the Conservative government as a condition of EU support. She then focussed on the policy shifts in the last two years under the Socialist Party government, which is supported in parliament by the Left Bloc. To the initial consternation of the EU authorities, this was able to reverse some of the harshest measures introduced during the crisis, and incomes are slowly beginning to rise again, although she stressed that many of the countries public assets had already been privatised.