Skip to content

Weekly Roundup: May 17


At the Blog

On Monday, Jeff Gordon argued that the dichotomy between “derisking” (in which the government offers subsidies or guarantees to firms) and capital discipline (in which the government imposes coercive mandates on firms) is far too simple, since under the right circumstances subsidies can successfully discipline capital by triggering a race to the top. As he writes, “The key insight is that conditional subsidies do not only alleviate risk; they also impose a new risk of falling behind competitors who willingly comply with the conditions. By creating a new, highly reliable route to profitability, the state grants a competitive advantage to the subset of firms most inclined to opt in. The threat of falling behind rivals is profoundly disciplinary—just discipline mediated through competition rather than imposed directly through regulation.” Everybody is talking about it, so you might as well see what all the fuss is about.

On Wednesday, Davarian Baldwin continued our series on higher education, by explaining how universities use their tax-exempt status to exert undue influence over the political economy of the communities in which they are embedded. While much of this series has focused on external attacks on the university, Baldwin begins from the fact that many colleges and universities have become the biggest employers, real estate holders, health care providers, and even policing agents in their respective cities. This is, in part, because they have learned how to monetize “non-profit” campus land—partnering with pharmaceutical companies, renting office space to insurance giants, and even purchasing apartment buildings and stripping them of their rent-controlled status.

In LPE Land

Mark your calendars: on Tuesday, May 28, Ryan Doerfler (HLS) will be leading the fifth session of our open course/reading group “What To Do About The Courts,” focusing on specific reform proposals.

The Journal of Law and Political Economy released its latest issue, which includes new articles by Yochai Benkler and Talha Syed (Reconstructing Class Analysis), Greta R. Krippner and Luis Flores (Toward a Sociology of Contract), Riccardo Fornasari (The Legal Form of Climate Change Litigation), and Christopher Tomlins (The Progressive Imaginaire: A Critique of The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution).

Today and tomorrow, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society is hosting an online conference on the challenges posed by Green industrial policy for the democratic governance of the economy. Featuring Amy Kapczynski, Saule Omarova, and several other LPE favs.

In Phenomenal World, Adam Gaffney examined the limited prospects of supply-side solutions in healthcare.

In Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson offered a deep dive into a new class action complaint against prison labor in Alabama. (For general background, see our 2023 series on Captive Labor).

On his Substack, Tim Barker discussed what the shortage of 155mm shells can tell us about the future of American capitalism.