UMass Economics Wolff

Wolff analyzes role of nation state in capitalist societies

Umass Amhersrt Economics Professor emeritus, Rick WolffIn an editorial for International Relations, Rick Wolff, UMass Amherst economics professor emeritus, discusses the significance of nation state in capitalism’s cycle.  Capitalsit commentators initially rejected the notion of nation state, favoring globalization as a means to greater prosperity and wealth.  However, because of the nature of capitalism’s instability, the nation state has become overwhelmingly important as a means to transfer debt.  

Capitalism and the Useful Nation State
Rick Wolff
March 9, 2010

In the US, the nation state undertook to move toxic debts off private balance sheets and onto the national balance sheet. Across much of the world, there have been similar nationalizations of unsustainable debt and of private losses from financial speculations and other corporate failures.

Undertaking state debt to pay for nationalizing private debt and undertaking still more state debt to bailout failed capitalists in other ways has demonstrated again the usefulness of the nation state. More than that, by drastically deepening nation states’ budget deficits, it becomes clear who is being positioned to bear most of the costs of today’s capitalist meltdown. The masses of tax-payers and the same masses as beneficiaries of state-provided services and payments are everywhere being told to “tighten their belts.”

Alums Pollin UMass Economics

Garrett-Peltier & Pollin’s research cited in op-ed article, “The Energy Fetish”

An opinion article in The Hill cites the research of Robert Pollin, UMass economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and economist Heidi Garrett-Peltier.  Their research supports the argument that investments in reforestation would have a bigger impact, both economically and environmentally, on climate change than investments in energy.  Specifically, every million dollars of investment in forest, stream restoration and sustainable land management would produce 39 jobs. These investments are cheaper and would generate more jobs than investments in conventional energy sources. And, although most of the attention on climate change is attributed to coal power plants and automobile’s emissions, only half of global greenhouse gases come from energy.  Investing in reforestation would generate immediate shovel-ready jobs and significantly cut down on global green house emission. (The Hill, 3/9/10)

Graduate UMass Economics

Fourteen UMass Students Present at EEA

Fourteen UMass Amherst students presented papers at the Eastern Economic Conference last month in Philadelphia.  The Eastern Economic Association is a not-for-profit corporation whose object is to promote educational and scholarly exchange on economic affairs.

Presenters included:

Bengi Akbulut
“Interrogating the Turkish State and Sustainable Development:  The GEF Experience”

Hasan Cömert
“Did the Fed Trigger the U.S. Financial Crisis of 2008?”

Noah Enelow
“The Relationship between Ecology and Trade: Proposal for a Theoretical Framework”

Charalampos Konstantinidis
“When Everybody Cares: Environmental Technocratism and (the Need for) Radical Ecological Economics”

Iren Levina
“Towards a Dialectical Marxist Theory of Finance”

Cem Oyvat
“How Migration Affects the Inequality in Developing Countries:  A Critique of the Kuznets Curve”

Hyun Woong Park
“A Critique of the Circulationist Tendencies within the Social  Paradigmatic Approach to Marx’s Theory of Value”  
“Oversimplification of Overdetermination: A Critique of Overdeterminist Marxism”

Zhoachang Peng
“The Tragedy of ‘Quantitative Poverty Reduction’: An Analysis of What Has Gone Wrong with Rural Poverty Reduction in Post-Mao China” 
“From Bless to Curse: Releasing and Absorbing Agricultural Surplus Labor in Maoist and Post-Mao China”  

Luis Daniel Rosero
“Insuring Against Neighboring Crises: Contagion and the Reserve-Accumulation Decision by Latin American Central Banks”

Mark Silverman
“Causation and Constitutivity: A Critical Appraisal of Marxian Overdetermination”

Joao Paulo A. de Souza and Ben Zipperer
“Integrating Neo-Keynesian and Neo-Marxian Theories of Distribution”

Hasan Tekguc
“Importance of Food Self-Provisioning for Food Security of Rural Households”

Zhun Xu
“The Political Myth of Land Privatization in China”

Folbre UMass Economics

Folbre examines implications of “widespread strategic default” by underwater homeowners

A NY times blog entry by Umass Econ Prof. Nancy FolbreUMass Amherst economics professor, Nancy Folbre, argues in her NY Times Economix blog that a massive default by “underwater” homeowners would actively reshape policies on home buying and lending.  Folbre claims that it would “decisively increase the bargaining power of indebted homeowners, force changes in current federal policy and state regulation, and give individual debtors far more leverage in negotiating with creditors.” However, Folbre points out that most homeowners who are underwater won’t simply “mail their keys to the bankers” because they already love the neighborhood they live in, don’t want to disrupt the flow of their personal lives and feel a moral obligation to their financial commitments.

March 1, 2010
Will ‘Underwater’ Homeowners Make Waves?

Bankers call it “negative equity,” but we all call it being “underwater.” A rising tide of articles point out that a large percentage of American homeowners — perhaps as many as 25 percent — owe significantly more on their homes than current market value.

If the difference between what they owe and what they could get if they sell is small, say less than 10 percent, homeowners may want to hold their breath and hope for the best. After all, home prices will probably rise eventually.

But if the difference is much greater than 10 percent, some experts argue, individuals should just walk away and mail their keys to the bank.

What would happen if all the homeowners in really deep water simply moved out and mailed their keys to the bank within the next six months?

A widespread strategic default would look something like a wildcat strike. It would decisively increase the bargaining power of indebted homeowners, force changes in current federal policy and state regulation, and give individual debtors far more leverage in negotiating with creditors.

Will this happen? The odds are against it. Many underwater homeowners are attached to their homes and neighborhoods and reluctant to disrupt their personal lives.

Bankruptcy significantly damages credit ratings, limiting future ability to borrow. Further, most individuals feel a moral obligation to meet their financial commitments.

On the other hand, evidence is mounting that many homeowners were misled by aggressive, largely unregulated lenders. They didn’t jump underwater — they were pushed.

Folbre UMass Economics

Folbre cited in, “Opinion: How to Teach Kids Money Matters”

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

UMass economics professor, Nancy Folbre, is cited in an op-ed article about teaching children about financial responsibility.  Folbre urges those working in child economic outcomes to push for policy changes because children can’t advocate for themselves.  “By the time they grow up, it’s too late to influence the policies that partly determine their own success in adulthood.” 
(Opinion:  How to Teach Kids Money Matters, 2/26/10)