An interview with Ganesh Sitaraman about the corrosive effects of deregulation on the airline industry, the American tradition of regulated capitalism, and how to think about the use of history in addressing contemporary problems.
Regulators at both the NLRB and Department of Labor have recently rolled back Trump-era employment status rules. To an outsider, these changes can seem pedantic and inconsequential. A political economy perspective, however, reveals a deeper logic to the new rules, which address three pernicious trends in employment classification — the ability of businesses to manipulate the inherent ambiguity in treating employment like a contract, the ascension of the ideology of human capital, and the norm of the arbitrage economy.
The Biden administration’s antitrust policy has been the most pro-labor in decades. And yet, the response from labor advocates and the labor movement has been rather muted. Why the disconnect? And what can it teach us about the limits of antitrust policy that takes the ideal of perfect competition as its normative benchmark?
Twelve titles that the Blog’s editors can’t wait to read in the months to come.
In the face of increasing inequality, legal regimes in the Global North have started to grapple with the distributive consequences of corporate law. They would do well to look to the Global South, where several jurisdictions have pioneered heterodox approaches to corporate law that take into account a broad range of public policy and distributional objectives.
President Biden’s recent executive order on artificial intelligence addresses a wide array of concerns about the nascent technology: risks to national security, the use of deceptive AI-generated content, market concentration, and much else. To help sort through the meaning and implications of these various directives, we asked seven experts for their initial reactions.
Earlier this month, Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. His conviction should not, however, be seen as any kind of victory. For the past three years, SBF successfully exploited a financial regulatory system stuck in older ways of thinking and increasingly incapable of averting illicit finance in the platform economy. To prevent such predation in the future, LPE scholars must help accelerate the turn to proactive planning, including via the day-to-day, direct supervision of major financial institutions.
Though dominant features of the American economy for most of the 20th century, corporations have become less numerous in the past three decades. Meanwhile, neglected alternatives to the public corporation have proven surprisingly durable. Given the manifest pathologies of shareholder capitalism, the combination of these two trends may suggest pathways out of our current dilemma.
In Paul Gowder’s recent blog post, as well as in his new book, he argues that we should democratize, rather than dismantle or restructure, Big Tech platforms. However, this familiar framing obscures more than it reveals, relying upon an impoverished account of the political economy of technology, of the co-evolution of politics and production, and of the core role of material infrastructure in digital settings.
Some people head to the pumpkin patch. Others drink from the unholy fountain of the pumpkin spice latte. But here at the Blog, our favorite autumnal activity is decidedly less gourd-based: we scour the internet for the most exciting forthcoming LPE and LPE-adjacent articles. Covering tech, labor, housing, the administrative state, criminal justice, family law, religious freedom, finance, legal theory, and so much more, this scouting report is not to be missed.
There is, at present, a conceptual mismatch between the strategies of accumulation that are dominant in the digital economy and the basic assumptions that underlie the legal regimes tasked with regulating accumulation. To begin to address this discrepancy, legal actors in these regimes need a better understanding of how companies translate social data into profits and power.
Private equity firms, cloaked under protective securities laws, have increasingly acquired companies that provide goods and services in U.S. jails and prisons. But it is the legal construction of prisoners’ rights that has enabled this market to take the particular form that it has, turning community ties into steady payment streams. In particular, Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, which has affirmed the constitutionality of pay-to-stay fees, has transformed the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment into a (subordinating) right to credit.
Multinational platform companies, including Uber, iFood, Rappi, and 99, are currently pushing to export the United States’ most exploitative new labor laws to Brazil. Lawmakers should reject these attempts. As empirical evidence from the U.S. context shows, adopting a new “intermediate” worker category would be disastrous for low-income workers, and as Courts around the world have found, platform companies exert high levels of control over their workers and thus should be subject to standard labor and employment regulations.
With bipartisan calls to break up big tech, it is worth pausing to ask whether the proposed remedy matches the diagnosis of the problem. Antitrust breakups work best when there’s a clear conflict between public and company interests. Yet with some of the most pressing problems – such as the spread of disinformation – company and public interests plausibly converge. An alternative approach would be to keep tech companies intact but integrate users and workers more directly into their governance systems.
The NLRB’s recent Cemex decision should discourage employers from resisting unionization and therefore make it easier for workers to gain bargaining rights. But how should we understand the basis of this decision? Brishen Rogers considers the case from three theoretical perspectives: the liberal legalist, the progressive functionalist, and the low-key Marxist.