Global Political Economy: Glossary (Part 3 ) J-N

Jamaica Conference (1976): A conference in which the major industrial powers accepted flexible currency exchange rates. Most economists thought that this would benefit the global economy, while others argued that it would create higher inflation and destabilization.

Japan (Bank of): Nippon Ginko, the Central Bank of Japan located in Tokyo. It was founded after the Meiji restoration in 1882. In l871, a new currency, the Yen was established. The bank issued new bank notes in 1885 which were greatly favored by the rats which ate many of them.

Jevon’s Paradox (William Stanley Jevons): Says that an increase in the efficiency of use of a commodity will not result in decreased consumption of the commodity, but rather increased consumption. For example, if light bulbs become more efficient by using less energy, people will just buy more bulbs and use them longer.

Jugler Cycles (Joseph Schumpeter): A business cycle discovered by Clement Jugler associated with changes in investment in new plant and equipment. These cycles last eight to eleven years.

Justifiable Coalition: A distributional coalition, such as a corporation, which is set up to create value or wealth, rather than to engage in rent seeking on its own behalf. According to New Political Economy, in this case, the coalition is justifiable.

Keiretsu: In Japan, a set of companies with interlocking business relationships. They appeared after World War II, after the partial breakup of the big companies called zaibatsu. The six major postwar groups were Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo, Fuyo, Dai-Ichi Kangyo, and Sanwa.  

Kennedy Round: Trade round talks under GATT which began in May 1964 and continued for 37 months. The talks involved 62 countries and addressed the issues of tariff reductions and anti-dumping measures. The talks resulted in 40 billion dollars of trade concessions in world trade.

Keynesian Economics: Also known as demand side economics. The theory presented in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) by the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes noted that economic output depends upon aggregate demand, or total spending in the economy. During a recession or depression, the government can come to the aid of the economy by government spending programs to boost aggregate demand and thus economic output.

Kitchen Cycles (Joseph Schumpeter): Short fluctuations in the economy discovered by Joseph Kitchen, which last from three to four years. They are due to the changes in business inventories.

Kondratiev Waves: Long-run economic cycles lasting between 45 and 60 years and discovered by Nikolai Kondratiev. Prices rise during a 20 to 30 year period, and then decline for 20 to 30 years.

Labor Productivity: The amount of goods and services a worker produces in a unit of time. It can be measured in terms of a firm, a particular process, an industry, or for a country. Productivity depends upon such factors as investment, technology, human capital and intensity of work.

Labor Theory of Value: A theory devised by the classical political economists beginning with Adam Smith and David Ricardo. The theory was used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy in Capital. The theory basically says that economic value is produced by labor. The amount of value produced depends upon the prevailing means of production in an economy.

Laissez faire capitalism: A system of economy which historically has existed only in theory. In is a concept from classical political economists, such as Adam Smith, of an economy in which the government does not interfere in the workings of the market. Prices are seen to be set by natural factors, such as effort in labor.

Late Industrializer: Countries such as Germany, Japan and the former Soviet Union which industrialized after the rise of earlier industrial countries such as England and the United States. The term is associated with Alexander Gershenkron who argued that the pattern of industrialization was different for countries depending upon the time frame of industrialization. While industrial capital was accumulated gradually through emerging corporations in early industrializers, the state was active in the accumulation of capital in late industrializing states. For example, the banks were a source of capital for capitalist businesses in Japan after 1945.   

Law of Diminishing Returns: A fundamental economic principle which says that in a process of production adding one more factor of production, while holding other factors constant, will, at some point, yield lower per unit returns. This is because at some point, additional units of a factor of production may lower the efficiency of the process.

Law of Income Distribution (Vilfredo Pareto): A pattern of income distribution across nations discovered by Pareto. Income increases geometrically from the poorest to the wealthiest members of society in almost every society, according to the law. Pareto believed that the natural distribution was that twenty percent of the population would own eighty percent of the wealth.

Laws of returns to scale: Includes the law of increasing returns to scale, the law of constant returns to scale and the law of diminishing returns to scale.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs): Least developed countries are countries which lack socioeconomic development and have a low human development index. The three criteria for least developed countries include poverty, lack of human resources and economic vulnerability. LDCs have a gross national income (GNI) per capita of less that US $992 as of 2012. Human resources are weak in terms of nutrition, health, education, and adult literacy. They also demonstrate economic vulnerability based upon the instability of agricultural production, the instability of exports of goods and services, merchandise export concentration, the handicap of smallness, and a significant proportion of the population affected by natural disasters. These criteria are set by the Committee for Development Policy of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). There were 50 LDCs in 2014, including 34 in Africa, 10 in Asia, five in Australia and the Pacific, and one in the Caribbean.

Lender of Last Resort: The International Monetary Fund is frequently referred to as a lender of last resort when a country experiences serious financial problems and needs a large loan. The IMF is then seen as the only solution to the problems which the country faces.

Leontief Paradox: A concept from Wassily Leontief. The paradox was that the United States was seen to enjoy a comparative advantage in the export of labor-intensive agricultural products when traditional H-O theory predicted that the US should export capital intensive goods. Most of these agricultural products, however, were not produced under conditions of corporate production, but on individual small and medium sized farms in the United States. The process utilized much family labor which otherwise might have remained idle. Perhaps other relevant factors are the high productivity of much farm land in the US and efficient farming methods used by farmers in the US.

Less Developed Countries: Countries characterized by a low national per capita income, a high rate of population growth, high unemployment, and a dependence upon commodity exports.

Liquidity: Liquidity is cash, cash equivalents, and other assets, such as stocks and bonds that can easily be converted into cash.

Loanable Funds Theory of Interest: This theory says that interest rates are determined by the supply of savings and the demand for loans.  

Lobbying: In the American political system, all major corporations station representatives in Washington, DC, who petition Congressmen for legislation favorable to their business. Congressmen are in turn rewarded for their service with campaign contributions from these corporations. While it appears to be a form of bribery, it is referred to as lobbying, in the American context. More generally, lobbying also occurs in the European Union and other political contexts. 

Macroeconomic Policy: Includes the policies of a government in shaping the national economy. It includes monetary policies and fiscal policies. Monetary policies include such tools as raising or lowering interest rates to expand or restrict the economy. Also a policy of quantitative easing (printing money) is sometimes used to increase the money supply and stimulate the economy. Fiscal policy includes spending policies of the government, including military spending, spending for social welfare, spending for new infrastructure and so on. It also includes policies on taxation.

Managed Float: An exchange rate system in which the value of a currency is largely determined by the free market and changes from day to day. However, it can be adjusted by actions of the central bank, such as the buying and selling currencies. This is part of the current international financial environment. It is also called a dirty float.

Managerial Capitalism: A form of capitalist production and accumulation in which firms are managed and controlled by highly paid managers who are the central agents of power and direct the enterprises of the firm in order to maximize profits and accumulation. In the case of financial firms, profits and accumulation of capital is the sole underlying objective of the enterprise. 

Marginalist Revolution: The Marginalist Revolution refers to the development of neoclassical economic theory in the Nineteenth Century, beginning in the 1860s with the work of William Stanley Jevons, Carl Menger, and Leon Walras. These theorists developed a marginal theory of value to replace the labor theory of value of the classical political economists. Jevons published The Theory of Political Economy in 1871. Menger published his Principles of Economics in l871 and Walrus published his Elements of Pure Economics in 1874. This work anticipated the work of Alfred Marshall at the end of the century, which began the neoclassical period of economics.

Marginal Return: The marginal return to a factor of production is the change in output brought about by a change in that factor of production. The marginal product of labor is the change in output per unit change in labor.   

Marginal Productivity: The additional output that is produced by hiring one more worker or by using one more unit of input.

Marginal Utility Theory: An economic theory which attempts to measure the increase in satisfaction which consumers gain from consuming an extra unit of a good.

Market: A system, institution, procedure, or infrastructure by which people or parties may participate in the exchange of goods and services. A market generally also establishes the prices of goods and services. A market with a single seller is a monopoly. A market with multiple sellers and a single buyer is a monopsony.

Marshall’s Cross: The graphic depiction of supply and demand in Alfred Marshall’s economic model which depicts price on one axis and quantity on the other. Since the supply and demand curves cross at the point of equilibrium, the graph resembles a cross. It was seen by some to be the worker under capitalist production who was being crucified on this cruel cross.  

Masters of the Universe: The title which the owners and directors of giant global corporations have given themselves depicting their role in the global economy. 

Meiji Restoration (1868-1912): The economic rise of Japan during the imperial rule of Emperor Meiji. Meiji came to power with the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867. Changes brought about the end of feudal society and the beginning of a market society. Industrialization and the rise of the military promoted Japan as a modern nation with western influence. A Meiji slogan was “Enrich the Country.”   

Methodological Individualism: An approach to understanding economic and political behavior by focusing upon the discreet decisions of individuals which are seen to be rational. Typical of the neoclassical era of economics and particularly of the Austrian school of economics.

Mexican Debt Crisis: In August 1982, Mexico defaulted on its debt to the IMF. The Mexican Peso was devalued by about 50 percent. The private banking system was nationalized and Mexico suspended payments on its debt. The US Government arranged a 3.5 billion dollar loan to Mexico. This was followed by another loan of 3.8 billion dollars three months later during which Mexico was forced to make free market reforms. Wages fell and there was high unemployment. 

Mexican Financial Crises (1994): The Mexican Peso Crises began in December 1994 with the collapse of the Mexican Peso. The new President, Ernesto Zedillo had just been elected. Carlos Salinas de Gortari was the outgoing President. Zedillo took office on December 1, 2004. The Peso was four to a dollar but quickly crashed to seven to a dollar. The United States bought pesos and organized a loan of 50 billion US dollars. The Peso stabilized at around six to a dollar and Mexico emerged from the crises in around three years, which is a typical time. The causes of the crises involved several factors. First, Zedillo reversed the tight monetary controls of Salinas implementing financial liberalization. Secondly, Salinas’s populist policies before the election had strained the country’s finances. His efforts to stimulate the economy were unsustainable. Further the quality of loans made in a period of low interest rates led to high risk. Another factor was the Chiapas rebellion in late 1994. This helped to lead to a drop in foreign investment. Inflation also increased due to high spending in the period 1985-1993. At the same time, oil prices dropped. This made it hard to finance past debts. The current account deficit rose and dollars flowed out of the country.

Microeconomic Policy: Economic policies which are said to be designed to improve economic efficiency such as tax policy, competition policy, deregulation, economic liberalization, reforms of industrial and import licensing, the ending of public monopolies, and bringing an end to central planning.

Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI): The ministry of the Japanese Government which succeeded MITI in 2001 to coordinate and guide the Japanese economy.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI): A government ministry in Japan which was created in l949 to coordinate international trade policy with the private and public sectors of the economy and revive the Japanese economy. It provided money for R&D and investment to major companies. It was succeeded by the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI) in 2001.

Misery Index: The misery index is a measure of the inflation rate plus the unemployment rate.

Mittelstand: The name given to small and middle sized industries in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. They are given credit for much of Germany’s economic growth in the 20th century. These firms are seen to be efficient concentrating upon a particular niche in production. They typically enjoy economies of scale, have highly skilled workers, provide high job security, are export oriented, and manufacture innovative and high-value products. In Germany, in 2003, seventy percent of employees in the private sector worked in such industries and contributed fifty percent of GDP. They are often located in small rural communities and produce such items as machinery, auto parts, chemicals and electrical equipment. 

Mixed Economy: An economy typical of Sweden and several developing countries such as India in which some industries are privately owned and some are state-owned. Infrastructure industries, such as dams and electricity producing plants are typically state-owned.

Mob Psychology: Also called crowd psychology. Mob psychology can help to bring about a financial crises as viewed in the financial instability theory of Hyman Minsky. When a new opportunity opens up in the market, firms and individuals rush in to invest resulting in euphoria and creating a bubble in overvalued assets. At some point, some start to believe that the market has reached its peak and start to pull out by selling assets. This trickle picks up and turns into a panic as the mob psychology takes over again and this results in bankruptcies and a financial crisis.

Money Illusion: Happens when people react to the amount of money rather than to the purchasing power of the money. For example, people generally believe that their income has gone up when they get a pay raise, but their real pay may have actually decreased in terms of purchasing power.     

Monetarism: A school of economic thought associated with the American economist Milton Friedman. Adherents of monetarism emphasize the role of government to control the amount of money in circulation. Friedman argued that the excessive expansion of the money supply is inflationary and governments should concentrate upon price stability by regulating the money supply.

Monetary Reserves: Monetary reserves are funds which a government must hold, such as dollars or Euros, to pay its international debts.

Monopoly: A situation in the market when a single enterprise is the only seller of a particular commodity. There is an absence of economic competition and therefore the supplier can raise prices at will.

Monopoly Finance Capital: A description of the US economy after the late twentieth century in which companies engaged in financial enterprises controlled the economy and made the great bulk of their profits from financial enterprises, rather than in manufacturing. The approach is associated with the journal, Monthly Review, in New York, edited by John Bellamy Foster. Financialization is seen as a response to the stagflation in the US economy in the l970s. Financial institutions turned to speculation in the financial markets to generate higher profits. They also invented new financial tools, such as derivatives.   

Monopsony:  Refers to a market situation in which there are many sellers but only one buyer.

Moral Hazard:  Moral hazard is the principle that nations must be held accountable and responsible for their debts. If they are not held responsible when they default on a debt obligation, for example, and are then given a new loan to cover the default, this could be seen as throwing good money after bad, and encouraging the country to be irresponsible. Moral hazard says that actors may be more willing to take risks when most of the risk will be borne by another actor. Therefore, it is important to hold actors responsible.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI): A draft agreement negotiated between members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) between 1995 and l998 on international investment. It was launched in May 1995 and negotiated in secret. In March l997, a draft of the agreement was leaked. NGOs and developing countries launched a campaign of criticism of the draft agreement because it would largely prevent countries from regulating foreign companies. Due to this pressure, the negotiations were suspended in April 1998 and France withdrew from the negotiations in October. The negotiations were then canceled on December 3, 1998. However, similar measures to serve the interests of corporate investors and prevent their regulation are being established under the World Trade Organization.

Mundell Equivalency: Says that trade in capital or labor and trade in goods will have the same effect on the economy and that one can fully substitute for the other. 

Mundell-Fleming Model: A model developed in the l960s by Robert Mundell and John Fleming. It describes an open economy and the relationship between exchange rates, interest rates, and output. The Mundell Flaming Model is used to argue that an economy cannot maintain fixed exchange rates, free capital movement, and an independent monetary policy all at the same time. This is the irreconcilable trinity also known as the Mundell-Fleming Trilemma.  

National Economic Competitiveness: The ability of a country’s firms and industries to supply and sell goods and services in international markets. Paul Krugman, in a 1994 article in Foreign Affairs, “Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession,” argued that countries do not compete with each other the way corporations do. US President Bill Clinton once said, on the other hand, that each nation is like a big corporation competing in the global market place. US economist, Lester Thurow, in his 1993 book: Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America argued that nations do compete with each other. He argued that Europe would win out over the US and Japan due to its superior national system of political economy.

National System of Political Economy: The term describes the parameters of a national economy, such as the Japanese or German Political economy. Relevant criteria are the role of the domestic economy and differences with other nations, types of economic activity, the role of the state in the economy, the structure of the corporate structure, and private business practices. 

Negative Externalities: A phenomenon which happens when all of the costs of production of a product are not included in the price. For example, if the cost of an automobile included the cost of the environmental pollution created the price would be considerably higher. These costs, however, are externalized.

Neoclassical Growth Theory: The theory of growth formulated in the l950s by the economist Robert Solow. This model states that economic growth is a function of the factors of production, labor and capital. Technology and human capital are exogenous variables. It assumes that once new technology is invented, it is available to all producers. It also assumes constant returns to scale. It has been superseded by New Growth Theory, which takes account of such factors as economies of scale and control of R&D.

Neoclassical Political Economy: The term was used originally by Thorstein Veblen in 1900. The neoclassical era of political economy began in the late nineteenth century with the marginalist revolution, and particularly with the work of Alfred Marshall in 1890. The three basic assumptions include (1) people have rational preferences which can be identified (2) individuals try to maximize utility and firms try to maximize profits (3) people and firms act independently, based upon relevant information. Marshall used supply and demand graphs to specify when an economy was in equilibrium. These theorists also developed a theory of value based upon marginal utility. This approach may be viewed as including the Austrian School of political economy.

Neoclassical Synthesis: The neoclassical synthesis is defines as including neoclassical political economy plus Keynesianism.

Neo-institutionalism: An approach to studying society, including economics, sociology, international relations, and political science, that has emerged since the 1980s. It focuses upon the way people behave in institutions. It borrows from the work of Max Weber. In economics, this approach is associated with Douglass North at Washington University in St. Louis. Scholars note that the main goal of institutions is to survive and to do so, they must establish their legitimacy. People may act within institutions rationally to maximize utility; or act out of duty, that is normatively; or they may act cognitively, that is, taking for granted that certain ways are the correct way to do things. Neo-institutionalism emerged as a reaction to behavioralism which focuses upon the individual.

Neoliberalism: The mainstream approach to capitalist accumulation which has emerged since the l980s in Great Britain and the United States and spread widely around the world. Neoliberalism is characterized by the privatization of public sector enterprises, deregulated financial markets, an opening to the global market and foreign direct investment, austerity in government services and social welfare, and state support for capital and failing markets, rather than people. 

New Political Economy: There are several key parameters of the New Political Economy. Following the work of public choice theorists, such as Mancur Olson, it is argued that rent seeking distributional coalitions, such as labor unions, are unproductive and slow economic growth. Economic policy making should be taken out of the hands of populist politicians and put in the hands of technocrats who make decisions based purely upon economic parameters. Justifiable coalitions are positive when they are for the purpose of investing capital for economic growth. Those guiding the economy are seen to be rational and interested in only the needs of the economy.

Niche Products: Products which are produced and intended for a narrow segment of the market.

Nominal Interest Rates: The rate of interest in the current price but ignoring the rate of inflation. For example if the rate of interest is twelve percent, but inflation is ten percent, the real rate of interest is only two percent.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): A trade agreement which came into effect in 1993 and links together the economies of Mexico, the United States and Canada. This agreement has shifted many US manufacturing jobs to Mexico. It has also had the effect of lowering average wages of workers in all three countries.  


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