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.
Once the near-exclusive prerogative of the United States, unilateral economic sanctions are increasingly a multipolar phenomenon. As Aslı Bâli has recently argued, this current conjuncture may offer a new window to resist forms of economic coercion that legitimate and enforce an unjust neocolonial global order. At the same time, however, there are new dangers inherent in the transformation of sanctions and related coercive practices into tools of open hegemonic contestation.
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.
Since the end of the Cold War, sanctions have served primarily as a way for relatively united Western powers — led by the United States — to impose their preferences on weaker states. The era of unipolarity that has facilitated such one-sided coercion is, however, drawing to a close, and with it perhaps the age of ever-proliferating sanctions.
The legal concept and practice of “peaceful sanctions” is ridden with contradictions. To understand these antinomies, and to make sense of the changes in the legal treatment of sanctions over time, we must attend to the material basis of the international legal order – namely, a global but contradictory, crisis-prone, and conflictual capitalist imperialism structured along racial, gender, and spatial lines.
Humanitarian concerns have generally failed to bring about concrete legal limits on the use of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy. However, as the ongoing saga concerning the Afghan central bank’s assets indicates, they have succeeded in something much more fundamental: they have legitimized the use of sanctions as a tool for undoing and re-assembling the sovereignty of a postcolonial state.
In this moment of U.S. financial imperialism, a host of “new” colonizers have emerged, including private plaintiffs holding unsatisfied civil judgments against so-called terrorists, terrorist organizations, and countries designated by the U.S. State Department as state sponsors of terrorism. And just as the colonizers of yesteryear used imperial policies to destroy and deplete the colonized’s resources, these new colonizers pillage in their own modern way, leveraging and expanding the U.S. government’s imperialist reach.
At a time when human rights NGOs rigorously count civilian deaths in armed conflicts, no equivalent accounting is available to victims of a war waged via exchange rates, inflation, and interest rates. The opaque mechanisms through which economic coercion inflicts harm have made it difficult to identify causation, let alone to prosecute its agents under international law, while the rise of neoliberalism and an individualized human rights politics have led to a turn away from the concerns with economic coercion that animated post-colonial legal activism in the 1960s and 1970s.
To what extent do the very building blocks of international law enable the weaponization of economic asymmetry? How has the expansion of the U.S. financial system shifted the locus of economic coercion in the global order? And what possibilities exist for legal analysis and advocacy to contest such forms of imperialism? To answer these and other questions about the role of law in economic sanctions, this symposium draws together insights from scholars working at the intersection of LPE and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL).
The IRA promises to pump billions of dollars into clean energy infrastructure, primarily though tax equity financing. This approach, despite its merits, all but guarantees that our clean energy future will be dominated by incumbent private actors, namely large financial institutions and private developers, who will capture the benefits of abundant low-cost renewable electricity.
How can a Law and Political Economy approach guide the power of taxation toward democracy, justice, and a livable planet? As a start, it can help us understand that tax policy involves not only the power to redistribute market earnings, but also the power to transform market governance.
Silicon Valley Bank failed, in part, because it parked its cash in long-term U.S. government bonds. But why were Treasuries so attractive in the first place? One reason is that regulators assign the lowest possible risk-weight to U.S. government bonds. This favorable weighting does not, however, reflect a neutral assessment of actuarial risk. Rather, it reflects a policy choice to encourage banks to hold government debt. More broadly, risk-weights have long deviated from assessments of actuarial risks to encourage (or discourage) lending to particular sectors.
With the spring submission season nearly in the books, and our Twitter feeds abuzz with placement announcements, the LPE Blog highlights some of the most exciting forthcoming LPE and LPE-adjacent articles. Covering tech, care, labor, criminal justice, religious freedom, money and banking, property, the administrative state, and so much more, this scouting report is not to be missed.
As we debate matters of near-shoring, friend-shoring, and globalization, we must not forget the lessons of the recent past: from Argentina to India, the pursuit of open economies involved a brutal crack down on labor union resistance. In the process, many governments unleashed dynamics that now threaten the survival of democracy itself. Hope, though, can be found in the recent strengthening of labor movements globally, as well as the potential to bolster unions through industrial policy and the transition to a green economy.
Six money and banking experts offer their initial reactions to the Silicon Valley Bank debacle.