Anne de Tinguy (dir.)

Looking into Eurasia : the year in politics provides some keys to understand the events and phenomena that have left their imprint on a region that has undergone major mutation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991: the post-soviet space. With a cross-cutting approach that is no way claims to be exhaustive, this study seeks to identify the key drivers, the regional dynamics and the underlying issues at stake

Ivan Manokha, Mona Chalabi

The latest financial crisis has put the state and the international system to the test. In this context one would expect an explosion in literature from the discipline that claims academic monopoly over the international sphere: International Relations. However, as our research shows, surprisingly few IR scholars have made any attempt to analyse the crisis. This article seeks to explain this paucity of engagement, and the failings of those few works that did attempt to engage with the crisis, by exposing the limits of the discipline's orthodoxy. It argues that the discipline of IR has been predominantly concerned with the analysis of political interactions of sovereign states, their external behaviour towards each other in an anarchic international system, with each of these territorial units seen as pursuing their national interests, usually vaguely defined in terms of power or resources. With such privileging of the political over the economic, of the external over the domestic, of state actors over non-state actors, and of the study of conflict over the analysis of other types of interactions, the discipline of IR has inherently and structurally been unable to engage with, and render intelligible, the latest financial crisis and its consequences. The article then sketches out an alternative approach which seeks to overcome the dichotomies that characterize the orthodoxy and provides a more holistic explanation of the crisis.

Javier Santiso

Ethically correct policies sometimes, even often, skeptics will say, simply reflect a good grasp of where one's interests lie. The creation of an ethical fund or involvement in a micro-finance program may only be a way of pandering to the times or improving one's self-esteem in a convoluted fashion. However, these tributes to virtue nevertheless raise a number of contemporary questions and issues. The sums invested in ethical funds are far from merely symbolic. In the United States, one out of every ten dollars is invested in "ethical" financial instruments. In Europe, they are developing quickly. As for micro-loan experiments, from Bangladesh to Bolivia, the profitable results they have yielded to all parties are proof that they warrant taking an interest in them. As the present research emphasizes, the use of ethical funds and micro-loans, although it may not bridge the gap between past and future, nevertheless shows promise for the years to come: it provides a temporal horizon that the commonly-called international civil society takes part in shaping

From a broad perspective, political economy analyses economic and political exchanges proper to some social groups, embedded in particular historical periods. The great innovation of Max Weber’s analysis is to highlight the intersubjective orientations that support these exchanges and characterize a particular period of history. This study firstly compares different features between free market economy and the soviet-type economy. Secondly, it measures their difference in accordance to the “ideal type” of “market”, bureaucracy” and “forms of domination”. Finally, it insists on the particular “hybrid” figures of “charisma” and “patrimonial bureaucracy”.

Boris Samuel

In 2004 the government of Mauritania admitted that for the past ten years its national macroeconomic and financial data had been falsified. This admission revealed a small part of the fraudulent practices that took place during the Taya era which ended in 2005. But it also showed that the economic management of this "good student" had become ensnared in true "bureaucratic anarchy". Beginning in 2005, when the democratic transition should have enabled the public administration's house to be put in order, reforms were often motivated by a desire to improve the image of the regime and were thus less than effective. Then, following the elections of 2007, and in the midst of financial scandals, the government developed a technocratic approach which alienated the Mauritanian public who perceived a power vacuum. A new coup d'etat occurred during the summer of 2008. The "Rectification Movement" of general Abdel Aziz acquired legitimacy as a result of its fight against terrorism in Sahel. Employing populist rhetoric and adopting the moral high ground in the fight against rampant corruption, the Movement favored lax management of resources and tight, even authoritarian, control of public finances.

Gilles Lepesant

The Central European model of development has until recently rested on a low interest rates, significant increases in consumption, heavy dependence on capital inflows, open markets especially towards Western Europe, and for some specialization in cyclical industries (automobiles). The crisis has highlighted on the one hand the growing divergence between the countries of Central Europe and on the other their high level of interdependence which has necessitated cooperation in their relations with the EU. While Western Europe is unlikely to experience a repeat of the 1930s, it is possible that recovery will prove illusory as it did between the two world wars. Witness the case of the automobile sector which became a major contributor to GDP and source of in Central Europe but whose future prospects are uncertain. Regional policies of which new member states are the beneficiaries should, in theory, encourage innovation, pro-employment policies, and sustainable development as means to ensuring recovery

Antoine Vion, François-Xavier Dudouet, Eric Grémont

The study proposes analyzing the complex links between the standardization and regulation of mobile phone markets from a political economy perspective. Moreover, this study examines these links by taking into consideration, from a Schumpeterian perspective, the market disequilibrium and the monopolistic phenomena associated with innovation. It aims firstly to underline, with respect to different network generations (0G to 4G), the particularity of this industry in terms of investment return, and the key role that network standardization plays in the structuring of the market. This key variable of the standard explains in large part the income that GSM represented in the industrial and financial dynamics of the sector. The study thus explores the relations between the normalization policies, which are certainly neither the sole issue of public actors nor are they simple industrial property regulations, and the regulation policies of the sector (allocation of licenses, trade regulations, etc.). It underlines that the last twenty-five years have made the configurations of expertise more and more complex, and have increased the interdependency between network entrepreneurs, normalizers, and regulators. From a perspective close to Fligstein’s, which emphasizes the different institutional dimensions of market structuring (trade policies, industrial property regulations, wage relations, financial institutions), this study focuses on the interdependent relations between diverse, heavily institutionalized spheres of activity.

Alexandrine Brami Celentano, Jean-Marc Siroën

Since the 1970s, the world follows a triple evolution in favor of democratization, opening and decentralization. Brazil has been following this movement with a democratic and decentralizing constitution and by the adoption of market-friendly policies. However, since the Real Plan (1993), Brazil is recentralizing its fiscal policy. The huge increase of public expenses is predominantly at the profit of the Union, which imposes new fiscal constraints to the States and Municipalities. If the international integration is frequently associated to tax limitations and decentralization, Brazil would depart from this general trend. However Brazilian integration is recent and partial. Integration does not seem to increase inequalities what would justify a centralized transfer from the “winning” regions to the “losing” ones. The fiscal recentralization by higher public expenses might be therefore explained by the political will to reduce initial inequalities and to implement a better social protection. We show that fiscal recentralization is also the consequence of a distorted fiscal system notably in the nature of social security taxes and the type of VAT (ICMS) applied by States.

Isabelle Rousseau

Facing a very complex environment with many economical, geopolitical and climate uncertainties and risks, National and International Oil Companies have been looking for a more rationale organizational structure to hold out against competition. This is the problem Pemex – the Mexican National Oil Company - which is third-ranked in world oil production, has been facing with. The reform process is not easy: it implies changes to the Constitution. With the recent democratization of the political regime, none of the major political parties alone is dominant in the Congress and has the capacity to push through such changes. Since the beginning of the nineties, the teams who governed Pemex tried to reply the following questions: Which kind of organizational mechanisms would allow Pemex to conserve its condition as a National Company and, in the same time, to be managed with the private sector principles and criteria? More concretely, is it possible to stimulate a market context inside a state monopoly without modifying the text of the Constitution? How can a new labor culture be created when the very influential Oil Trade Union has been maintaining a corporatist logic of the ancien régime? How to introduce criteria for corporate social responsibility when secrecy has been part of the traditions in the management of the company? What kind of evaluation is it possible to make nowadays about the reforms those managers offered?

Chinese aid and investment in Cambodia have been soaring for the last ten years thus indicating the rising influence of the People’s Republic of China, especially in countries where the Chinese community is strong. Chinese aid, free of any democratic rhetoric, allows the governments benefiting from it to ignore the requirements generally imposed by lending institutions. As a matter of fact, Cambodia is highly dependent on public aid for development. An analysis in terms of historical contingencies reflects a conjunction of two processes of putting a grip on the economy, both in China and Cambodia. Chinese aid and investment thereby help to consolidate a political economy based on arbitrariness, increased inequalities and violence, as well as the overlapping of positions of power and accumulation. In this regard, the analysis must take into account foreign aid not only because it competes with Chinese aid, but also since the Paris Accords it has participated – indirectly – in reinforcing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s power.

Diana Hochraich

Since their economic development got under way, the ASEAN countries – which essentially manufacture labour-intensive products – have been marked by strong regional integration brought about by the segmentation of the production process engaged in by Japanese companies. In these countries, successive relocations resulted in de facto economic integration at a time when various political groupings intent on blocking the development of communism were also emerging. Since joining the WTO, China – the world’s workshop – has become the hub for trade with the developed countries. In the face of such competition, the ASEAN countries will have to show their capacity to maintain their position in the value chain represented by the production of all of the Asian countries. While a number of econometric studies seem to indicate that the ASEAN countries will succeed in this undertaking thanks to the specific nature of their production apparatus, it is important neither to underestimate China’s ability to learn quickly and its determination to move further up the production chain nor to overlook the total absence of industrial policy on the part of governments in these countries which follow the advice of international organisations. It would seem that the ASEAN countries, faced solely with market forces, cannot hope to enhance their limited ability to move up the production chain.

Caroline Dufy

Barter was a prominent issue in public debate during the 1990s in Russia: it prompted a more overall reflection on the nature of the Russian economy and the aim pursued by economic reforms. These major issues shaped a number of divisions: the government opposition portrayed barter as one of the pernicious effects of economic policies that gave priority to finance to the detriment of the national productive sphere. For others, it was to be interpreted as the legacy of the Soviet industrial sector and its lack of competitiveness. The ruble crisis in 1998 paved the way for a reverse trend leading to the sudden decline of barter. Unlike the initial growth phase, the decrease in barter gave rise to little comment. Yet these two colliding changes provide an opportunity to review the relevance of the various interpretations offered. Furthermore, the effort to recontextualizing barter in an historic perspective provides keys to understanding the immense changes that occurred in Russia in the 1990s. The statistical indicator of barter will serve as a basis to formulate a central question: how should this swift decline of barter, offer a long, sustained increase, be interpreted: is it an adaptation in trade behavior to the new economic conditions or the effect of more restrictive legal standards? In the latter case, does this official decrease mask economic practices that are moving toward the informal sector? To understand the barter trade requires looking beyond stylized facts. By nature, statistics tend to objectify multifaceted phenomena. Our analysis fits within the anthropology of economic exchanges, striving to reconstitute the dynamic and subjective dimension that the actors’ practices and discourses give to barter. From this standpoint, we show that barter is the product of constant interactions between legal processes, economic context and socio-cultural context. The statistical decline of the barter indicator in that case seems to be one of the visible effects of deep-seated changes that have marked the new working environment for Russian business.

Olivier Cattaneo

This study aims to provide all the necessary keys to understanding the new round of multilateral trade negotiations set off by the World Trade Organization members in Doha on November 14, 2001. It first presents the circumstances that framed the conference, enabling a new round of talks to begin. After the failure of the Ministerial Conference in Seattle, serious doubts indeed hovered as to whether new multilateral trade talks could be launched. Nevertheless, various factors, such as improved transatlantic relations, consideration of the demands of developing countries and civil society, better Conference preparation and the events of September 11 all created a favorable context for Doha. The study then proceeds to describe the characteristics of the new negotiation round and the stakes involved. In drafting the Doha Declaration, so many last-minute diplomatic compromises were made that the document is complex to interpret, even for the negotiators themselves. How the negotiations will be organized from a practical standpoint is also unclear, and warrants clarification. This study thus summarizes the various issues slated for negotiation and what is at stake, as well as the organization and main deadlines for negotiation. Lastly, it analyzes the current state of negotiations and perspectives in view, without going into detail or predicting the future. At a time when WTO members are in the process of negotiation, any conclusion in this regard would quickly be outdated. However, this study reveals that the context that prevailed at Doha no longer exists, and that today the progress of negotiations has run up against several obstacles, as can be seen in the difficulties they are encountering at this early stage.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.

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