Neoliberalism’s Quiet Failures

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
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Contact person: 
Anna Bogic
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Free of charge
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Presented by CIPS and the International Political Economy Network:

Even its greatest critics have tended to see the early days of the rise of neoliberalism as an almost mythical time, when Thatcher and Reagan swept into power and turned their back on decades of Keynesian orthodoxy with a series of dramatic and ruthless policies that put Friedman and Hayek’s ideas into practice. Monetarism, supply side economics and the rational expectations revolution turned economic theory and policy upside down. Or did they? In this talk, I join a growing chorus of scholars who have begun to question the tidiness of this particular historical narrative. My attention is on the little-discussed but incontestable failure of early efforts to put these three economic theories—monetarism, supply side economics and rational expectations theory—into practice. To recapture the logic and significance of these little failures, we need to shift our attention away from the politics of big “I” ideas—like Neoliberalism and Keynesianism—and focus instead on the more mundane practices and devices that key policymakers in the United States and United Kingdom used to try to transform their economies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By doing so, we will begin to appreciate how fraught and contested the early days of neoliberalism were, and to recognize the complex politics of little economic failures both then and now. 

Jacqueline Best is a Full Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research is at the intersection of international relations, political economy and social theory. She has been a visiting professor at University College, Oxford University, the University of Queensland and the University of Sheffield. Professor Best has been awarded a number of research prizes, including most recently the Leverhulme Trust’s international visiting professorship. She has recently published Governing Failure: Provisional Expertise and the Transformation of Global Development Finance with Cambridge University Press. She a currently co-editor of the high-ranked journal, Review of International Political Economy.