nep-pke New Economics Papers
on Post Keynesian Economics
Issue of 2020‒06‒08
four papers chosen by
Karl Petrick
Western New England University

  1. Exhaustible resources and classical theory By Bidard, Christian; Erreygers, Guido
  2. Towards Economic Democracy and Social Justice: Profit Sharing, Co-Determination, and Employee Ownership By FitzRoy, Felix; Nolan, Michael A.
  3. Amartya Sen, social theorizing and contemporary India By Gasper, D.R.
  4. Deficiencies of international investment law: What chances for "critical lawyers" to civilize global value chains and/or to transform the status quo of the economic world order? By Diaby-Pentzlin, Friederike

  1. By: Bidard, Christian (EconomiX, Université Paris Nanterre); Erreygers, Guido (Department of Economics, University of Antwerp)
    Abstract: Smith, Ricardo, Marx and Sraffa made no theoretical distinction between exhaustible resources and lands. The very notion of exhaustibility, however, can be opposed to that of ‘indestructible powers of the soil’ (Ricardo) and calls for a specific analysis distinct from that of rent. The diversity of the contemporary attempts to deal with that question in a classical framework shows how varied are the understandings of the main methodological features of classical theory. Three crucial points emerge: first, the treatment of prices, which are invariant in classical theory but, according to the Hotelling rule, are changing through time for exhaustible resources; second, the notion and the measure of the rate of profits; and, third, the relationship between economic analysis and a more historical and sociological approach stressing the balances of power between classes. Our own approach starts from a very simple model, called the corn-guano model, where guano is the exhaustible resource, and examines the dynamics of such an economy on the physical side and the value side. These lessons serve as a basis for an extension to multisector models. We provide a critical assessment of a few alternative approaches developed by Sraffian scholars.
    Keywords: exhaustible resources; classical theory; Hotelling rule; Sraffian approach
    JEL: B24 Q32
    Date: 2020–05–26
  2. By: FitzRoy, Felix (University of St. Andrews); Nolan, Michael A. (University of Hull)
    Abstract: Modern economies deprive workers of natural democratic rights and any share of the surplus they produce, with most of the benefits of growth appropriated by capital owners. Worker wellbeing and job satisfaction are ignored unless they contribute directly to profitability, while precarious employment and underemployment, with stagnant or declining real wages, have persisted over four decades, despite recent low official unemployment. For economic democracy and social justice, we propose redistributive tax and welfare reform, extended codetermination, subsidised profit sharing and employee buyouts.
    Keywords: economic democracy, participation, co-determination, profit sharing, employee ownership
    JEL: H P
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Gasper, D.R.
    Abstract: The work of economist and philosopher Amartya Sen (1933-) has attracted attention in other fields too, including in political science, human geography, planning, health and social policy, and, to a lesser but growing extent, in sociology and occasionally anthropology. This paper, written as part of a project on Indian social theorists, discusses Sen’s relation to social theorizing. While he is not a ‘social theorist’ in the sense recognized in sociology and anthropology, being grounded instead in the earlier perspectives of Adam Smith, Condorcet and J.S. Mill, much of his work, both theoretical and empirical, proves of interest to a wide range of social scientists. The paper’s first main part outlines his contributions as a social analyst, under four connected headings: (1) theorization on how people reason as agents within society; (2) ‘entitlements analysis’ of the social determinants of people’s access or lack of access to goods; (3) theorizing the effective freedoms and agency that people enjoy or lack, in his ‘capability approach’ (CA); (4) treatments of societal membership, identity and political life, including a liberal theory of personal identity and a strong advocacy of and high expectations for ‘voice’ and deliberative democracy. The second part characterizes Sen’s intellectual style, marked by systematic conceptual refinement, associated emphases on complexity, heterogeneity, and individuality, including personal individuality, and a reformist optimism. The third part treats his relation to ‘social theory’ as considered by sociologists, including the connections, contributions and possible blind spots: in his attention to work by sociologists, in his system for theorizing human action in society, in treatment of power structures and capitalism, and in his optimistic programmatic conception of personhood that stresses the freedom to make a reasoned composition of personal identity. The final substantial part discusses his preoccupation with public reasoning and democracy, and the focus on an arguably idealized version of the former and relative neglect of the sociology of the latter. It contrasts the ideal of a reasoning polity with features and trends in independent India. Nevertheless, Sen’s programmes or critical autonomy in personhood and for reasoned politics carry significant normative force, and his analytical formats can help not only structured evaluation but investigation of obstacles to more widespread agency, voice and democratic participation.
    Keywords: capability approach, democracy, freedom, identity, public reasoning
    Date: 2020–05–13
  4. By: Diaby-Pentzlin, Friederike
    Abstract: Rules should be fair, no matter from which perspective (Rawls, 1999). Given that Justitia holds a balance, current international investment law is disturbingly onesided. It mainly sets out to protect property positions of foreign investors. According to mainstream legal thinking, imposing obligations on transnational corporations (TNC) is only possible by means of the gentle non-binding rules of corporate social responsibility (CSR). As will be documented here, international investment law today has become a body of law for enterprises with hardly any regard for people and planet putting the private gains of few above the common good of many. Conventional approaches to legal questions deal with legal dogmata by detaching the law from its economic and political context. However, since legal norms are the result of societal negotiations, critical jurists have a role in analysing the law and its implementation, given the prevailing social and economic backgrounds. They see more easily that private interests increasingly drive legal doctrines and that social or environmental needs are largely neglected in mainstream legal activities. In international relations, the political consensus of the states in the United Nations (UN) has now moved beyond the Millennium Development Goals and their ideology of rich countries helping the poor (for a critique see Amin, 2006) within the dominant asymmetrical, fossil-based production and consumption paradigms. Due to acknowledgment of the increasingly pressing environmental and social needs, since 2016 more comprehensive and universal UN Sustainable Development Goals now aim to "transform our world" (United Nations, 2019). In international investment law, such changes are still to come. African states and societies in particular are undergoing economic and social transformations towards a nowadays also questionable modernity, and within decades, a process that took centuries in Europe. There are no more rural areas spared from agricultural or mining investments. So particularly in Africa, critical jurists and scientists need to analyse and point out which legal rules and interpretations on the international, regional, national and local level really serve the interests of the population in Africa. (...)
    JEL: F53 F54 O18
    Date: 2020

This nep-pke issue is ©2020 by Karl Petrick. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.