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Labour, Finance and Inequality: The Insecurity Cycle in British Public Policy

last modified Jun 14, 2018 10:14 AM
Following the 2008 "global" financial crisis, the viability of globalised financial capitalism was called into question. The resulting fear and uncertainty produced a momentary return to "Keynesian" policies. But as soon as emergency stimuli – and bank bail-outs – appeared to stabilise the situation, there was a sharp reversal; and successive British governments and the financial sector have since attempted to return to business as usual.

Historically, much smaller shocks have been able to produce dramatic change, with the 1978 "Winter of Discontent" providing a catalyst for the election of Margaret Thatcher, the ultimate abandonment of the post-war Keynesian consensus, and the ushering-in of neoliberalism. Nor is apparent success a guarantee against change, with Winston Churchill being swept from office by the first majority Labour government in 1945 – at a point which should have marked his greatest triumph.

In this book, these apparently inexplicable shifts in the conventional wisdom and the accompanying policy paradigm are explored through the lens of the interest groups that have jostled for position since the second industrial revolution. In this context, inequality, poverty, free market capitalism and the social welfare state have interacted in an uneasy, dynamic dance – the "insecurity cycle". The authors explore these interactions, their impact on the relationship between society and the economy, and the possible implications of Brexit and a re-energised political left.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, Labour, Finance and Inequality will be a key resource for academics and students of social and political economics as well as public policy. It will also offer considerable insight to policy makers and a more general non-specialist audience.

About the Authors

Suzanne J. Konzelmann is a Reader in Management at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. She is also Director of the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Co-Executive Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics and a Research Associate in the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research.

Simon Deakin is a Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is also Director of the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research, Co-Chair of the University’s Strategic Research Initiative in Public Policy, and a Fellow of Peterhouse. He is Editor in Chief of the Industrial Law Journal and a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Marc Fovargue-Davies is a Research Associate with the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Birkbeck, University of London, UK. Formerly a strategic marketing consultant and brand development specialist, he is also a freelance journalist, specialising in socio-economic issues, politics and yachting.

Frank Wilkinson is Emeritus Reader in Economics at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is also Founding Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics and a Research Associate in the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research.

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Labour, Finance and Inequality: The Insecurity Cycle in British Public Policy

Jun 14, 2018

Following the 2008 "global" financial crisis, the viability of globalised financial capitalism was called into question. The resulting fear and uncertainty produced a momentary return to "Keynesian" policies. But as soon as emergency stimuli – and bank bail-outs – appeared to stabilise the situation, there was a sharp reversal; and successive British governments and the financial sector have since attempted to return to business as usual.

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