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Economic Adjustment and Political Transformation in Europe and the United States (Alcuin Lecture 2019)

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Named after Alcuin of York, a teacher, theologian, and poet who advised the Emperor Charlemagne, this annual lecture hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations is given on a topic concerning the UK and Europe.

The series was established with a generous gift from Lord Brittan, former Vice-President of the European Commission, who himself gave the first lecture in 1999. Since then many UK European Commissioners have contributed to the series, which has also included Lord Hannay, the former UK Permanent Representative to the EU, Carl Bildt of Sweden, and Shirley Williams.

Speaker Erik Jones is Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy and Director of European and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also Senior Research Associate at the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale in Milan.

Abstract Politics has moved from parties of mass integration, through catch all parties, to cartel parties, to increasing fragmentation. Markets have moved from capital controls and embedded liberalism, to free capital movements and macroeconomic imbalances. These two movements seem to run in parallel even if they are not connected. Political elites have lost control over their supporters and economic elites have lost control over market forces. Now a different group of would-be elites is promising to take back that control. As part of that promise, they vow to strengthen political and economic institutions. The question is whether the program they offer is capable of delivering superior economic outcomes and whether it is consistent with democratic norms and values. There is strong reason to believe that economic performance will worsen rather than improving and that the control these new elites promise and the procedures for democratic accountability are incompatible. This discussion explores that potential incompatibility through case studies from Europe and North America. The goal is to show how similar developments are taking place in very different institutional environments and to consider the implications for economic performance, democratic stability, and European integration.

This talk is part of the All POLIS Department Seminars and Events series.

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