Flexicurity – a working model for Europe?

Before moving in to the nitty-gritty of flexicurity; what it is and whether it can work as a universal European labour market model I should take the time to thank the AFOE team for allowing me a spell as a guest-writer here at the blog in the coming two weeks. In terms of presentation my name is Claus Vistesen and I am a Danish student at the BLC program at Copenhagen Business School. For further info I invite you to visit my personal blog Alpha.Sources, which deals with a wide range of topics of my interest.

There is a lot of talk and flurry at the moment about labour market reforms in Europe, notably in France, but also Germany has been struggling with how to reform the labour market and here as well as here.

Looking to the north we find the Nordic countries who seemingly have the best of two worlds; low uemployment coupled with a high degree of security but what is it exactly that the Nordic countries are doing, and could others potentially follow their example?
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Unified Growth Theory

According to Oded Galor it has become evident that in the absence of a unified growth theory that is consistent with the entire process of development, the understanding of the contemporary growth process would be limited and distorted. He quote Copernicus to the effect that:

?It is as though an artist were to gather the hands, feet, head and other members for his images from diverse models, each part perfectly drawn, but not related to a single body, and since they in no way match each other, the result would be monster rather than man.?
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Uzbekistan and the World

Ok, I’m feeling guilty. Back in November, when the ‘orange revolution’ was thriving in Ukraine, we were all over it here at Afoe. Now, with an estimated several hundred dead in Andizhan, Uzbekistan we’re strangely silent. Why, because it isn’t Europe? Well, we are a Europe centred blog, but I hope that doesn’t mean we are Eurocentric. In any event we are involved, one way or another: as Jack Straws comments, or lack of them, make only too plain. So I’m going to try and follow what is happening in Uzbekistan.

But there is another reason for my deciding to do something about the situation, and it came to me after reading a post by John Quiggin on Crooked Timber.
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Is this the resolution?

Ten days on, and we may be close to a resolution of the crisis in the Ukraine. There’s definitely been some agreement between Kuchma, Yuschenko, Yanukovich and the mediators (Solana, Adamkus, Kubis and Kwasniewski) but, as ever, the devil is in the details. The basic points seem to be that there will be a revote, there will be constitutional reforms before the vote occurs, protestors will stop blockading government buildings and an all-party working group will implement changes based on the rulings of the Supreme Court.

The questions that remain to be answered though, are:

  • What form will the revote take? The full election, or just the second round? Will new candidates be allowed to stand, and will existing ones be barred from standing? Will more observers be allowed in for the elections, and will Yuschenko’s other requirements, such as limiting absentee ballots, be accepted?
  • What form will the constiutional reforms take? The general opinion seems to be that the Prime Minister and Cabinet will gain powers from the Presidency, but is this to weaken a potential Yuschenko Presidency? And will the reforms address the regional issues?
  • Where do the protestors go now? Blockades are over, but will some remain on the streets to keep the pressure on?
  • Finally, what will the Supreme Court actually rule and when? It seems the election process can’t really begin until its deliberations are completed?
  • As I said, reaction seems to be mixed amongst both the media and the bloggers as to whether this is the end of this stage of the crisis, or whether it still continues. See the Kyiv Post, PA/Scotsman, Le Sabot, Foreign Notes, Notes from Kiev and SCSU Scholars for more.

    In related news, The Argus notes that while the events in Ukraine may have inspired protestors in Tajikstan Uzbekistan, while attention’s been focused elsewhere, Russia is demanding Abkhazia reholds its recent election.

    Finally, I’ve received a report from Tarik Amar, who reported from Ukraine on John Quiggin’s blog last week. He’s been talking to the people in the tent city and you can read the full thing below the fold.
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    The morning after

    Well, it’s been another quiet night in Ukraine, but the demonstrations have continued again today – the live feed shows that Independence Square is full of people again with hundreds of orange flags flying.

    There have been a lot of updates on Maidan overnight, mainly of protests and rallies around the world, and still the rumours about Russian troops continue. The main news there, and at the Kyiv Post are of the call for a general strike by Yuschenko.
    Louise Ferguson has an email from a Ukrainian academic that’s being forwarded around the world which makes for interesting reading. The key line, when talking about the election fraud is ‘I couldn’t remember such things even during the period of Soviet regime.‘ (the full text is below the fold)
    BBC News has a short rundown of the faults with the election process identified by the election observers.
    Elsewhere the EU/Russia summit will go on today with Ukraine on the agenda – it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of there, and I suspect much will remain on hold until that is over. However, the EU’s mediators should be in Kiev by now, which means things will be going on behind the scenes that we won’t notice.
    On the ground, there are blog updates from Neeka, Obdymok, several from Le Sabot, Foreign Notes and continuing posts from Victor at the Periscope.

    I’ll try and update the news as often as I can today, but I’m a lot busier today than I was yesterday, so hopefully some of my Fistful colleagues will take up some of the slack. I think it will be quieter today – though rumours will still fly – mainly because all the action will be taking place behind the scenes either in The Hague or Kiev.

    Update: A couple of peope have asked for background information on the ethnic and nationalistic divisions in Ukraine. Well, like many issues of national identity in Europe, the answer is ‘do you want the long story, or the really long story?’ but for an overview there’s good article in today’s Independent and Wikipedia is a good web source – you can start with their Ukraine page and follow links from there.
    In my roundup earlier, I also forgot to mention that Harry’s Place has links to articles on attempts by the current Ukrainian administration to get support in Washington. Harry also links to a good Timothy Garton Ash article in The Guardian.
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    Book Review: “European Integration 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?”

    Once upon a time, there was a large, intellectually hegemonic, somewhat totalising ideology rooted in a heterodox school of economics. Its advocates proposed to make massive changes to the structure of society and claimed that only such a revolutionary realignment could alleviate the contradictions and failures of the existing order and save the world from stagnation and misery. They claimed that their programme would produce immediate results, and that the only reason it wasn’t immediately implemented was because entrenched interests were manipulating the public against them.

    Ultimately, advocates of these principles did gain power in many places and were able to implement elements of their programme. Some came to power through revolutions of various kinds that granted them the near-dictatorial powers they needed to make the changes they believed necessary. Others were able to convince electorates and even elites that theirs was the way of the future. They turned public dissatisfaction to their advantage, especially during economic downturns when people were willing to turn to new solutions and elites feared that the masses would turn against them.

    And, they had some arguable successes, but no unambiguous ones. In some places, particularly those where effectively unlimited power had shifted to them, they often maintained highly inequitable regimes which grew harder and harder to justify, faced ever growing public disaffection, and turned to more oppressive and manipulative means to sustain control. This undermined their movement, but despite the best efforts of their enemies was not quite able to kill it off.

    In states where more democratic methods had been used, the need to compromise with established interests and to sustain public consent forced them to accept measures often contrary to their initial programme. Their ideological identity tended to shift over time as winning elections grew more important than ideological purity and as the drawbacks of real power became apparent. Actually being held responsible for results forced many members of this tradition to accept their enemies’ interests as at least partially legitimate, and compelled them to less radical legislative programmes.

    In some of those nations, these radical parties became increasingly manipulative and difficult to distinguish from their former enemies. But, in a few places, the necessary dilution of their programme brought about an ideological synthesis that appeared successful, and this success in turn showed that the radical programmes they had once advocated were perhaps unnecessary. In the end, ideology had no real hold on them, and the models and methods that seemed to work became the political and economic programme that they were identified with. Their former allies who operated more dictatorial regimes were easily repudiated.

    But others were unable to accept that option. They included dissidents who had been burned by the growing authoritarianism of their own failed revolutions, or who were simply unable to accept that their early ideological purity had become superfluous. They were isolated and powerless, only able to function in the states where their former allies had become moderates, leaving them without meaningful public support. They fumed at the world’s unwillingness to go the way they wanted, and increasingly recast the history of the world in terms of their own ideological predispositions. The past became, in their minds, an unending conflict between an ideologically pure vanguard and scheming established interests, a story of their courageous champions betrayed by back-sliding traitors. Ultimately, the world moved on and these radicals virtually disappeared outside of intellectually protected milieux like privately-funded think tanks and universities.

    Of course, by the now the astute reader will have recognised that I am talking about the history of neoliberalism.
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    Interesting Take on Yukos

    A very interesting take on the Yukos situation from the Moscow Times. And one which relates directly to some of the privatisation issues we were debating recently. Boris Kagarlitsky, director of the Institute of Globalization Studies, argues basically that given that the Russian economy is dominated by an oligarchic structure of raw materials quasi-monopolies, and given that a majority of the population seem to want these monopolies returning to state ownership, the only ‘democratic’ solution is an authoritarian one. Khodorkovsky had another idea, and hence off he went to prison. Any comparisons with or lessons for Iraq here? Can democracy be introduced like this? Off you go.
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