Resources: Economics and finance

76 results
Larry Lohmann, Camila Moreno, Soledad Vogliano, Carlos Vincente, Elizabeth Bravo, German Velez and Jaime Breilh

15 December 2012

This book collects contributions from Ecuadorian and international activists and scholars analyzing new, "green" capitalist strategies. Topics covered include agrofuels, bioprospecting, food and agriculture, carbon and biodiversity markets, health and the role of the public university.
Strategies for NGOs
Larry Lohmann

11 November 2012

The United Nations Environment Programme pretends to believe that the deepening global financial and economic crisis can be ignored in its plans for the "Green Economy". This presentation for a meeting held last June by the Heinrich Boll Foundation on the occasion of Rio + 20 lists some reasons why NGOs would be ill-advised to share this insouciant attitude, and proposes more realistic lines of strategy in the face of the current crisis.

 

Is "Internalizing Externalities" Really a Way Forward?
Larry Lohmann

2 October 2012

"Let's internalize the externalities" has become an important slogan of the new "green economy". Its logic is evident in the Kyoto Protocol, the UK's plans for an "ecosystem services economy", countless regulatory projects advised by environmental economists, and even in financial markets' efforts to commodify radical uncertainty. But is this a solution for the environmental and social problems thrown up by capital accumulation, or a perpetual motion machine that functions merely to create more problems and business opportunities?

Shadow Bankers in London
Nicholas Hildyard

1 October 2012

In June 2010, the London Mining Network and The Corner House organized a "Hedge Fund Tour" through London's tony Mayfair district, home of many of the private financial institutions at the heart of the wave of dispossessions that followed in the wake of the 2008 crisis. 

The Case of Climate
Larry Lohmann

15 September 2012

All processes of commodification are different, depending on what is being commodified, how it is commodified, the degree to which it is commodified, the resistances of the material and of the people affected and so on. For this reason, attempts to commodify some things may make headway, while attempts to commodify others fall down immediately. This draft chapter for the forthcoming book Nature™ Inc: The New Frontiers of Environmental Conservation (edited by Robert Fletcher, Wolfram Dressler and Bram Büscher) proposes an analytical tool that can help explain why neoliberal efforts to commodify climate benefit are failing so disastrously. A drastically abridged version has been published by the online magazine Mute at http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/performative-equations-and-ne....

Infrastructure as Asset Class: A Critical Look at Private Equity Infrastructure Funds
Nicholas Hildyard

1 September 2012

Public, state and taxpayers' money is now being channelled the world over toward private equity funds seeking turbo-charged profits from the construction of substantial new infrastructure. The adverse political and economic consequences for the public good are profound and urgently need challenging.

... in an Age of Financialization
Larry Lohmann

1 July 2012

Proposals for greening the economy necessarily involve the greening of finance as well. But how is a greener finance to be achieved? Activist strategies that fail to take stock of where finance is today in the wake of the 2007-08 breakdown -- and the struggles that are continuing to develop between neoliberalism and the commons -- are unlikely to succeed, and may actually do harm.
A Submission to the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Corporate Responsibility
The Corner House

22 June 2012

A UK Treasury-financed, off-balance-sheet vehicle may be hiding the extent of the financial liabilities of UK Export Finance (formerly the Export Credit Guarantee Department) and may also be concealing its use of taxpayer funds to cover operational expenses.

In addition, UK Export Finance has failed to put in place procedures that would enable it to comply with its legally-binding obligations (notably with respect to human rights) under Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty.

These are among the conclusions of a recent Corner House submission to a UK Parliamentary group, one part of a broader questioning by civil society groups of the human rights and sustainability practices of Britain's official export subsidy apparatus.

Larry Lohmann

18 May 2012

What is the new "green economy" to be heralded at the Rio+20 summit in June 2012? What do this "green economy", together with the neoclassical economic thinking that gave rise to it, look like from the perspective of the commons? These two powerpoint presentations from a May 2012 workshop in Quito for activists, indigenous leaders, students and the general public, suggest some avenues for further exploration.

The powerpoints are available here in both English and Spanish.

Complaint submitted to UK Parliamentary Ombudsman

8 May 2012

Nigerian anti-corruption whistleblower Dotun Oloko today accused  Britain’s Department of International Development (DfID) and its private sector arm, the CDC Group, of jeopardising criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing by two CDC-backed private equity funds, Emerging Capital Partners and Ethos.

In 2009, Mr Oloko supplied DfID with detailed information on investments by the two funds in companies alleged to have acted as money laundering fronts for James Ibori, the former Nigerian state governor who was sentenced last month for money laundering and fraud.

16 April 2012

Campaigners slam government’s development approach as DfID-backed private equity fund comes under criminal investigation in Nigeria

Larry Lohmann

28 October 2011

This article explains how today's carbon markets construct a tradable product by postulating a series of false equations – between reducing carbon dioxide and tackling fossil fuel dependence, between different greenhouse gases, between different places and times, between hypothetical and real emissions reductions, between biotic carbon and fossil carbon, and so forth. Competition to exploit cascades of ever more fanciful equations to increase profits ensures that the carbon markets become ever more damaging to the cause of combating global warming.


Un álgebra interminable: las contradicciones de los mercados climáticos

Los mercados de carbono, que constituyen el enfoque principal de los gobiernos del mundo frente a la crisis climática, construyen un producto comercializable postulando una serie de ecuaciones falsas. Estos mercados equiparan la reducción de dióxido de carbono con la lucha contra la dependencia de combustibles fósiles; equiparan los distintos gases de efecto invernadero, así como lugares y tiempos diferentes. Estos mercados dicen que las emisiones hipotéticas y reales son las mismas y que el carbono biótico y el carbono fósil también son los mismos. Estas ecuaciones tienen la función de proteger o incrementar los beneficios empresariales, y los intereses capitalistas están siempre dispuestos a inventar más ecuaciones. El resultado es que los mercados de carbono son cada vez más perjudiciales para la lucha contra el calentamiento global.

Genetic Promises and Speculative Finance
Sarah Sexton

19 October 2011

This book chapter explores some of the parallels, connections and disjunctures between the promised genetic revolution in medicine and health, and the crash of financial capital in 2008, aiming to illuminate several known insights for pursuing public health futures and finances that are often kept in the dark or conveniently forgotten.

The Contradictions of Neoliberal Climate Policy
Larry Lohmann

1 October 2011

The carbon markets that constitute the default international approach to the climate crisis, argues this article in the latest Socialist Register, aim both at opening up new frontiers for profit-making and at securing the background conditions for accumulation that are currently threatened by calls for greenhouse gas emission cuts. But they are afflicted by valuation paradoxes that are far more intractable than those affecting markets in other commodities such as food, energy, consumer durables, or even complex financial derivatives. The article is supplemented with a short interview with New Left Project's Ed Lewis.

Nicholas Hildyard

13 September 2011

"What news on the Rialto?" one of Shakespeare's businessman characters asks another in "The Merchant of Venice", referring to the bridge where Venice's merchants met to trade. If such a scene were played out today on Wall Street, the topic of conversation might well be how to make money out of saving the Rialto itself. But those who have always lost out as a result of the goings-on on the Rialto may want to talk about something other than how to "fix" a system that has always disadvantaged them.
Larry Lohmann

6 June 2011

The growing trend toward constructing environmental service markets is a response not just to ecological crisis but also to business crisis – in particular the prolonged profitability crisis that set in during the 1970s.

Evidence from The Corner House
The Corner House

3 December 2010

The Export Credits Guarantee Department should target its support towards small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that contribute to long-term, sustainable job creation and tax revenues in the UK. It should support low-carbon technologies instead of fossil fuel projects, such as oil pipelines and gas fields. It should reinstate immediately its environmental and social screening procedures, which were so significantly weakened in May 2010 that ECGD could now support projects using child and forced labour.

International Development Committee inquiry
The Corner House and Jubilee Debt

23 November 2010

This submission makes detailed comparisons between CDC (the Development Finance Institution [DFI] wholly owned by the UK’s Department for International Development [DfID]) and the DFIs of Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, European Union and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Private equity, financial intermediaries and what they mean for development
Nicholas Hildyard

22 November 2010

The Private Sector Turn conference explored the increasing shift from public to private funding in development finance, the forms it takes and what it means for activists and affected people.

Larry Lohmann

25 September 2010

This book chapter explores the interacting origins, development and politics of the “strange markets” in finance and climate developed in recent years and exposes the similar dangers they pose.


Los “mercados extraños” y la crisis climática

Este capítulo del libro explora los orígenes, el desarrollo y la política de los “mercados extraños” que han aparecido en las décadas recientes en el sector financiero y en la política climática internacional, y expone los peligros que presentan.

ECGD's role in promoting exports and credit to SMEs
The Corner House

24 September 2010

This Corner House submission to a Parliamentary Inquiry on "Government Assistance to Industry" (and on "Rebalancing the Economy") looks at how the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) promotes exports and supplies credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Responses to Food Speculation
Nicholas Hildyard

20 September 2010

 Some 154 million people were reportedly driven further into poverty in Southern countries as a result of speculation-induced food price hikes in 2007-08. What are the best strategies for bringing about the structural change needed that progressive activists can lend their support to?

This workshop presentation, while endorsing regulatory measures including banning certain investment vehicles such as exchange-traded funds and vetting of derivative-based financial instruments, cautions against becoming focussed on regulation alone as an answer. Also crucial is the promotion of non-derivative, socially-based mechanisms to protect farmers and consumers from volatile food prices, as well as price interventions that do not pit Northern farmers against their Southern counterparts.

Memorandum on CDC
The Corner House and Dotun Oloko

13 September 2010

This submission to a UK Parliamentary Inquiry into the Department for International Development (DfID) focuses on the support given by a DfID owned fund management business, CDC, to private equity funds and concerns over alleged corruption in several investments made by CDC-backed funds in Nigeria.

Variations on Polanyian Themes
Larry Lohmann

16 July 2010

One lesson the financial crisis teaches us is: beware of the new carbon markets that constitute today's main official response to climate change. These markets are startlingly similar to the financial derivatives markets that have thrown banking systems into a tailspin. (German version also available.)


Mercados de incertidumbres y mercados de carbono: variaciones en temas de Polanyi

Una de las lecciones que la crisis financiera nos enseña es a tener cuidado con los nuevos mercados de carbono que constituyen hoy la principal respuesta oficial al cambio climático. Este artículo de la revista New Political Economy argumenta que estos mercados son sorprendentemente similares a los mercados de derivados financieros que arrojaron a los sistemas bancarios al caos en 2008.

ECGD's assessment of Petrobras P-52 oil production platform

1 July 2010

A UK government department is underwriting loans taken out by the Brazilian state-run energy company, Petrobras, for an offshore oil production platform operating in the Atlantic Ocean in even deeper waters than those in the Gulf of Mexico where BP's exploration well is spewing forth oil after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank in April this year.

Memorandum to Secretary of State for International Development

28 June 2010

This Memorandum raises questions about the due diligence conducted by CDC, a company owned by the UK Government, in its dealings with two private equity firms that have invested in Nigerian companies. These companies are reported to be “fronts” for the alleged laundering of money said to have been obtained corruptly by the former Governor of Nigeria’s oil rich Delta State.

Refinancing through GEFCO raises questions about ECGD's financial losses

23 March 2010

In March 2010, The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) submitted a complaint to the European Commission alleging that the UK gives unlawful state aid to GEFCO, a special purpose vehicle used by the UK's export credit agency, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), to refinance its loss-making interest-rate support scheme provided to UK exporters. After much correspondence, it emerged in March 2011 that the complaint should have been directed at the companies receiving the support rather than at GEFCO itself and should have cited a different clause in the WTO's Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. The groups will submit a new complaint on this basis.

In Which Various Men with Beards are Enlisted to Help Explain Why Official Efforts to Address Climate Change Have Reached an Impasse
Larry Lohmann

25 February 2010

The approach to climate change that came to grief in Copenhagen in December 2009 is based on fetishism about molecules, numbers and targets. By trying to stuff politics, uncertainty, and history into a black box that is then set to one side, it has ensured its own demise. Tackling global warming effectively requires facing, rather than evading, the realities of inequality, conflict, exploitation, context and uncertainty.

The Political Economy of Offset Markets
Steffen Bohm and Siddhartha Dabhi

10 January 2010

This book presents case studies and critiques of carbon offset markets from around the world, emphasizing how this pillar of current mainstream climate policy affects the lives of communities. The book also presents alternatives to carbon markets which enable communities to live low-carbon lives.

BPU Review made public after Information Tribunal

11 August 2009

After the BTC Consortium, led by BP, formally asked the UK's export credit agency, ECGD, for financial support for its BTC oil pipeline project, ECGD's Business Principles Unit (BPU) assessed the potential environmental and social impacts of the project. The BPU's findings and recommendations were critical to ECGD's issuing significant financial guarantees for the project in February 2004.

 

When The Corner House put in an information request for a copy of the BPU's report, it was refused. Only after appeals and counter appeals was the information finally released in August 2009.

The Rise of Carbon Trading
Larry Lohmann

22 July 2009

Carbon permit prices flashing on electronic screens in Wall Street trading rooms reflect a complex political movement to reorganize and redistribute power and knowledge. The carbon markets associated with the Kyoto Protocol, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the US's Waxman-Markey Act constitute perhaps the last great class project of a waning neoliberal regime – the ill-fated attempt to privatize the climate itself.


El neoliberalismo y el mundo calculable: El ascenso del comercio de carbono

Los precios de los derechos de emisión de dióxido de carbono que aparecen en las pantallas de las computadoras de Wall Street reflejan un movimiento político complejo para reorganizar y redistribuir el poder y el conocimiento. Los mercados de carbono del Protocolo de Kioto y el Esquema del Comercio de Emisiones de la Unión Europea son uno de los últimos grandes proyectos del neoliberalismo – un intento malhadado de privatizar el clima. Este capítulo del libro, "El neoliberalismo y el mundo calculable: El ascenso del comercio de carbono", describe las contradicciones del intento de formar una mercancía con el clima.

Larry Lohmann

22 July 2009

Proposals for Green New Deals aimed at tackling both global warming and global recession are streaming forth worldwide. Unfortunately, many give short shrift to the need to phase out both fossil fuels and fossil fuel substitutes. Many also rely on obsolete conceptions of technology transfer. Future climate movements will have to focus increasingly on the democratization of research, planning and finance.

Larry Lohmann

21 July 2009

Can the financial derivatives markets be regulated? Can the carbon markets be regulated? The questions are parallel. Both markets try to commodify new things: in the case of the financial markets an unprecedented range of uncertainties; in the carbon markets, the earth's carbon-cycling capacity. Regulation tends to assume that any problems with either market can be handled by "internalizing externalities"; this approach will fail. A more practical approach to these markets' problems looks to decommodification. Both approaches, however, have attracted supporters from across the political spectrum.


La imposibilidad de regular los mercados derivados financieros y de carbono

¿Es posible regular los mercados derivados financieros? ¿Es posible regular los mercados de carbono? Estas preguntas son parecidas. Ambos mercados tratan de comercializar nuevas cosas. Los nuevos mercados financieros tratan de comercializar una serie de incertidumbres sin precendentes; los mercados de carbono tratan de comercializar la capacidad del mundo natural para absorber dióxido de carbono. Muchos funcionarios gubernamentales y académicos asumen que cualquier problema de estos mercados puede ser manejado con "internalizar externalidades". Esto no es cierto. Un enfoque más práctico a los problemas de estos mercados es la desmercantilización.

Lessons for Regulation
Nicholas Hildyard

28 May 2009

A talk at a Cardiff Business School conference on the insights from political organising that can help not only understand what caused the financial crisis but also develop ways forward that could ensure it is not repeated and that finance serves a public purpose.

Mark Thomas

18 March 2009

At the beginning of 2009, activist comedian Mark Thomas decided to do a weekly show about the meltdown of the world's economy. "It's The Economy Stupid" combines stand up comedy with interviews with invited guests -- economists, academics, MPs, trade unionists, journalists (and members of The Corner House) -- on stage to explain what happened, find out what is going on, and explore what we can do about it.

Why major reform is vital
The Corner House

18 March 2009

On 12-13 March 2009, development, environment and human rights groups from Belgium, France, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK, and local residents of the island of Jersey organised a seminar to discuss the necessity for tax haven reform and to exchange views on how governments and civil society can work towards achieving a "just transition" for tax havens that would not impact on poorer residents.

A training for government officials and civil servants in Iraq

16 December 2008

The Corner House and others carried out a training session to assist Iraqi government officials and civil servants in understanding the principles of human rights and Iraq's international obligations in relation to investment agreements.

Environmental, Social and Governance Issues in the Context of the Financial Crisis
Stephanie Fried

1 November 2008

Environmentally- and socially-destructive development projects are increasingly being funded by hedge funds, private equity and sovereign wealth funds (instead of by public or private banks) that are not subject to transparency, governance or reporting requirements. Public financial institutions are also investing in these alternative vehicles, which are often based in offshore tax havens. Basic information about these vehicles is not routinely made public. But in the midst of the financial crisis, the Asian Development Bank is pushing for even less transparency for such risky investments. Regulatory authorities should instead focus on much stronger transparency and accountability requirements and address the use by public financial institutions of "secrecy jurisdictions".

Myriam vander Stichele

24 October 2008

Huge amounts of money and capital have been able to move around the world with ease over the past few years. Governments appear not to have been aware what was going on, let alone to know what to do now in the ensuing crisis. In fact, it was (mainly Northern) governments that created the enabling environment for such free movement of capital and new financial products in the first place. This paper describes how they did so.

Financial Bricolage, Derivatives and Power
Nicholas Hildyard

9 October 2008

39. Financial entrepreneurs created a 'shadow banking system' over the past 30 years to circumvent regulation and to offload risk onto others, relying on 'derivatives' and 'securitisation'. They generated easy credit that fuelled a boom in corporate mergers and acquisitions across the United States and Europe, and that enabled companies involved in mining, biofuels, private health care, water supply, infrastructure and forestry to expand their activities signficantly. When the pyramid of deals came tumbling down, however, the public had to bear the costs.

Some Frequently Asked Questions
Kavaljit Singh

8 October 2008

38. The current protectionist backlash against state-owned sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), particularly from the Middle East and China, stems from Western policy makers' fears that SWFs follow strategic political objectives rather than commercial interests, investing in Western companies and banks to secure control of strategically important industries such as telecommunications, energy and banking. This paper examines these fears in order to understand the potential impact and implications of sovereign wealth funds in a rapidly-changing global political economy.

REDD with Carbon Trading
Larry Lohmann

30 September 2008

Many new schemes are afoot to allow the North to pay the South for conserving its forests in return for permission to continue using fossil fuels. But how would a market in pollution rights generated by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) play out in reality?

The Global Consequences of Private Equity
Kavaljit Singh

17 September 2008

37. Private equity has become an integral part of the world's financial system, creating a new type of corporate conglomerate that is reshaping the way business is conducted. It poses new challenges to labour unions, NGOs and community groups because of its influence on taxation policy, corporate governance, labour rights and public services. These challenges are especially clear in Asia, which private equity firms are targeting since the "credit crunch" took hold. Private equity's vulnerabilities, however, may provide opportunities to address public concerns.

A Decade of Resistance in Southern Thailand
Larry Lohmann

30 May 2008

Slowing and halting new fossil fuel developments has moved to the top of the global climate change agenda. But what are the obstacles to, and resources for, such a project? The 10-year struggle against a gas development project in one corner of Southeast Asia, described in this forthcoming article for the journal Race & Class, offers lessons in some of the complexities.

The Political Economy of International Investments
Kavaljit Singh

18 April 2007

This book details the central role of transnational corporations in determining foreign direct investment (FDI) patterns. Using case-studies, statistical data and cogent analysis, it makes a critical appraisal of contemporary investment issues as it maps investment flows, trends and regulatory frameworks. It shows how FDI can lead not to economic growth but to an outflow of capital instead of an inflow, prompting a growing backlash against foreign investments in many Latin American and Asian countries, and Russia.

Larry Lohmann

2 November 2005

This book chapter explores the connections between the dark, often racist, scare stories of Malthusianism over the past 200 years, and the reliance of the stories on a particular economic model about how society must be analysed and organised.

Activism, Expertise, Commons
Larry Lohmann

27 September 2005

Seeing social or technical change as the application of new "theory" to "practice" is one of the hazards of 21st-century middle-class life. Middle-class activists could take a leaf from both expert elites and grassroots movements, who both tend to know better.

Commodification, Calculation and Counterfactuals in Climate Change Mitigation
Larry Lohmann

20 September 2005

The Kyoto Protocol and kindred carbon trading measures have usually been presented as a small but indispensable step forward to mitigate climate change. Are they? Or, as this article for the journal Science as Culture asks, do they amount to a stumble backwards and a block to the emergence of more constructive approaches?

The Corner House, SinksWatch and Carbon Trade Watch

2 December 2004

International carbon trading systems are failing. They are both climatically ineffective and politically infeasible. The UK Parliament's Environment Audit Committee conducted an Inquiry into the International Challenge of Climate Change: UK Leadership in the G8 and EU in October-December 2004. This Memorandum was submitted as written evidence to the Inquiry by The Corner House, SinksWatch and Carbon Trade Watch.

A New Political Space for Activists
Mark Mansley and Nicholas Hildyard

30 January 2002

25. Lobbying financial markets has become a major way of halting or lessening the impact of environmentally-damaging and socially-inequitable projects. This briefing provides several case studies, traces the rise of ethical shareholding, and explores the limits and potential pitfalls of financial market activism.

Intellectual Corruption and the Future of the Climate Debate
Larry Lohmann

30 October 2001

24. The “carbon market” approach of international agreements to tackle climate change is incoherent. No one knows how to value the goods in this market, nor to whom they belong. As a result, the market, backed by a growing, well-funded, global climate technocracy, will subsidise further climate change. Democratic challenges to this “carbocracy” will be crucial in opening up the climate debate and combating the scientific fraudulence now rife in mainstream discussions.

Effective Lobbying of Companies and Financial Institutions
Nicholas Hildyard and Mark Mansley

31 July 2001

The Guide includes a comprehensive directory of the best web sites and library resources for researching companies and the sectors in which they operate.

A Book Review
Larry Lohmann

15 December 2000

If the choice of whether and when to translate claims to water and land into other idioms shapes and is shaped by power relations, so too is the choice of how to translate them. The charges of “misunderstanding” and “misinterpretation” that ricochet around any conflict of interpretation are negotiating moves, not claims that can be settled once and for all by fixing on a meaning that floats free of the context of discussion and struggle.

A Political Economy of Ethics in the Export Credit Debate
Nicholas Hildyard

2 June 2000

“Moral dilemmas” are not unattached to political, bureaucratic, social and economic interests. They are deeply political and are products of everyday conflicts over meaning, resources and ways of living and power. Who raises a particular moral dilemma and why is thus of critical importance.

Ethnic Discrimination and Conservation in Thailand
Larry Lohmann

9 April 2000

The intersections between international nature conservation and ethnic politics are of serious and growing concern to many social movements in Southeast Asia. This paper offers evidence that international environmentalist practices interact with local and national conditions to advance the structural work of ethnic discrimination and racism in Southeast Asia. The racist outcomes of these practices do not flow exclusively from unprofessionalism, faulty science, irrationality, immorality or incorrect beliefs -- and anti-racist strategy has to accommodate this insight.

Larry Lohmann

26 February 2000

A presentation at a seminar on "Environmental Justice in a Divided Society", Goldsmiths College, University of London, suggests that individual Western environmentalists are often pushed into supporting racist or discriminatory structures by their need to adhere to the rules of professional performance, including those of peer-reviewed science.

Strategies and Alternatives
The Corner House

10 October 1999

Decision-makers around the world use cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to decide whether or not to build dams, roads and airports; what actions to take over global warming, biodiversity loss and soil erosion; what health care and occupational safety policies to adopt; and so forth. Grassroots opponents of roads and hydroelectric dams, however, have persistently contested the ways CBA values land, forests, streams, fisheries and livelihoods.

Export Credit Agencies, Corporate Welfare and Policy Incoherence
Nicholas Hildyard

30 June 1999

14. Projects backed by export credit agencies (ECAs) are frequently environmentally destructive, socially oppressive or financially unviable. It is the poorest people in the countries where the projects are located who end up paying the bill. With rare exceptions, the major ECAs lack mandatory environmental and development standards, and are secretive and unaccountable.

Adaptation and Reaction to Globalisation
Mark Duffield

31 January 1999

12. Many internal wars in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, far from representing societal breakdown, can be seen as a rational response on the part of rulers (and would-be rulers) to ensure their economic and political survival in a context of globalisation and the changing nation-state.

Racial Oppression in Scientific Nature Conservation
Larry Lohmann

31 January 1999

13. Some strains of environmentalism treat “cultures” as fixed, closed systems with impermeable boundaries. Racism is neither a theory nor a collection of beliefs, sentiments or intentions, but rather a process of social control which functions to block inquiry and attempts to live with difference. Illustrated with a case study from Northern Thailand.

Les Conflits Ethniques Seraient ils Naturels?
Nicholas Hildyard (traduction: C. Bertrand)

30 January 1999

11. Au sein du mouvement écologiste occidental une aile conservatrice importante a développé, dans un souci de stabilité sociale, des conceptions sur la "culture" qui placent la cause profonde des "conflits ethniques" dans des antagonismes anciens, définitifs, implacables et invétérés entre populations. Ces conceptions sont très proches de celles de la Nouvelle Droite qui, de plus en plus, s'approprie le langage de la "différence" culturelle pour promouvoir un "racisme différencialiste". Il est important que les groupes progressistes s’opposent à cette manupulation politique d'éthnicité des environnementalistes conservateurs, ou de la Nouvelle Droite.

Ethnic Conflict and the Authoritarian Right
Nicholas Hildyard

29 January 1999

11. “Ethnic conflicts” are not rooted in ancient antagonisms or fixed cultural differences. Yet the authoritarian Right in Europe is increasingly framing its racist agenda in terms of “cultural differences” -- a discourse that chimes in disturbing harmony with that of many Greens, whose preoccupation with “tradition” can lend itself to a politics of exclusion. The need for progressive groups to distance themselves -- in actions as well as words -- from the Right’s “cultural” agenda is urgent.

Larry Lohmann

1 November 1998

Overconsumption is possible only by dividing different groups of people from each other. A different, more democratic pattern of political action will be required to lower consumption.

Reflections for Activists
Larry Lohmann

31 August 1998

9. “Third World development” seldom achieves its stated objectives and is repeatedly discovered to be based on false assumptions. Although discredited, however, it has survived and flourished. This briefing asks to what extent development’s critics have inadvertently increased both its longevity and its capacity to produce falsehoods and failure. Forging an effective critical activism requires reexamining the dynamic between development projects and their opponents, helpers and beneficiaries.

How Opinion Polls and Cost-Benefit Analysis Synthesize New “Publics”
Larry Lohmann

31 May 1998

7. Opinion polls and cost-benefit analysis, like public relations, attempt to construct new, simplified “publics” which are friendly to bureaucracies, politicians and corporations. The success of these attempts is limited by popular resistance at many levels.

Nicholas Hildyard

31 May 1998

A presentation looking at whose interests the free market serves and whose environment is protected by market instruments such as labelling and property rights which concludes that leaving the environment to the market is a recipe for social injustice, authoritarianism, neo-colonialism and ecological suicide.

Uncovering Corporate PR Strategies
Judith Richter

31 March 1998

6. Corporations use public relations techniques to limit campaigns against the socially-irresponsible or environmentally-destructive practices of transnational companies. Taking the infant food industry as a case study, this briefing discusses the risks of ‘dialogue’ with company or industry organizations.

Larry Lohmann

31 March 1998

All development projects follow a three-act dramatic plotline, as development agencies try to impose plans, meet local opposition, and improvise freely in an attempt to overcome resistance.

Whose Interest, Whose Rationality?
Larry Lohmann

31 May 1997

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is often regarded as a pure form of practical reasoning that can shift accountability onto supposedly impersonal mechanisms, summarize complex choices in a formulaic way, and transmute popular pressure, political debate and political conflict into quiet, office-bound operations performed on fixed and agreed-upon preferences. Yet CBA’s commensuration of things that no one has any experience in commensurating leads to odd new ways of treating reason, democracy, public opinion, space, time and personhood. And the more practical steps are taken toward its algorithmic ideal of decision-making, the more unforeseen political and social difficulties crop up, including popular resistance.

Nicholas Hildyard

1 June 1996

The rich have never been shy about praising the qualities that created their wealth. Nor are they short of convenient explanations for the poverty of others -- from “the breeding habits of the poor” to “economic mismanagement” and “protectionism”. But they have always found it difficult to explain poverty in ways that do not implicate themselves, contends this contribution to an Oxford Union debate, held at Oxford University, UK.

Contention and Resistance in Intercultural Space
Larry Lohmann

1 September 1995

Different actors -- transnational corporations, political and technocratic elites, their opponents and others -- contend with and influence what is loosely called “globalization” in different ways. Constructive and engaged understanding of the power struggles between them all and their resources, motivations, dynamics, strategies, effectiveness, and capacities for alliances requires coming to grips with the ways in which they interpret and present their own struggles.

Approaching Thailand’s “Environmental” Struggles from a Western Starting Point
Larry Lohmann

1 April 1994

Westerners wanting to engage in effective international campaigning often will need to question their very conceptions of what social movements are.

Larry Lohmann

1 November 1993

This opinion piece shows how environmental activists, ecological economists, development experts and deep green theorists tell self-serving and one-sided stories about Noble Savages, Eastern religions, “traditional communities” and ordinary householders. This "Green Orientalism" both arises from and perpetuates power imbalances. It must be constantly challenged by stories told from other points of view.

Nicholas Hildyard

2 February 1993

In 1986, the 12 member states of the European Economic Community (EEC) signed the Single European Act, which committed them to dismantling all legislative barriers to the free movement of goods, services, capital and people between them by 31 December 1992. The resulting Single Market is designed to protect the multinational interests that have long lobbied for its creation and that are now the dominant economic and political force within Europe. The Treaty on European Union -- commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty -- gives those multinational interests the legal powers and administrative apparatus of a full-blown state.

Private Pensions, Corporate Welfare and Growing Insecurity
Richard Minns with Sarah Sexton

35. This briefing outlines the different ways in which countries have financed both social security for older people and economic production. It describes the rise of the private model of pensions and the influence of pension funds on capital flows around the world. It then summarises and critiques the main justifications given for expanding private pension schemes, and analyses the motivations of the groups that perpetuate this model.

OpenSpace and CRESC held a one-day workshop in February 2010 on the underlying principles and practical prescriptions for financial reform. It was organised around three main questions: