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Monetary contestations. A political economy of money

Co-ordination: Bernard Castelli, Pepita Ould Ahmed and Jean-François Ponsot
Contestations monétaires. Une économie politique de la monnaie

Reacting to economic and social problems (macroeconomic imbalances, restructuring, precariousness, long term unemployment, rising inequality, etc.) linked to the current system of financial globalization, monetary contestation is on the rise on several different levels. Involved in the discussion are governments and the private sector, with a view to proposing an alternative monetary system.

The monetary system is basically the outcome of a process of social and political compromise. It represents at a given period of history a certain idea of the common interest and, so to speak, of “joining forces”. Nevertheless monetary history has shown that no social order is inalterable. If the people involved in the common venture no longer feel at home with it, it can be called into question at any time. Could this be what the challenges mean that we are witnessing today: a permanent struggle to modify the existing social organisation and its monetary assumptions?

The special issue planned by the Régulation Review has precisely this objective. It will study cases in which money is being debated in the context of the current monetary order and the underlying dynamics of accumulation in globalised financial capitalism. It will examine types of disagreement, groups of social players, economic and political initiatives, the ways in which the latter are driven, the different logics at work and their respective impacts (economic, monetary, social, political, environmental, etc.).

The focus will be on the political economy of money, going beyond the usual treatment, only too often narrowly economic and technical. Contributions will be particularly welcome from the social sciences and the humanities (not only economics, but also socioeconomics, sociology, political science, anthropology, history, philosophy, etc.) that embrace a politico-economic perspective. Preference will also be given to contributions based on fieldwork and to theoretical thinking that brings out the social, political and plural dimensions of money. The contemporary era will be central, but contributions that cover other periods will be included.

We plan four series of articles, to cover four different levels at which the monetary status quo is being challenged.

1) Local monetary challenges – In this particular dossier, contributors will pay close attention to challenges at local levels: challenges that have not attracted much attention in the media and have not been properly studied, despite their social, political and economic importance. Examples are alternative currencies that qualify as social and/or complementary, created by agents of civil society and/or by local public authorities responsive to economic forces, and based on critical political thinking concerning globalised financial capitalism. Ever since the 1980’s in economies in both North and South alternative currencies have recorded remarkable growth. These currencies tend to promote solidarity and to improve social integration of the poorest segments of local populations, thanks largely to the economic dynamics of local development. We plan to publish articles with empirical or comparative content that bring out the sheer diversity of these currencies and of their respective political and ideological backgrounds. At the same time, the articles will raise the question of the conditions under which these currencies can be effective and sustainable.

2) Monetary challenges at a national level – Globalised capitalism cannot simply be equated to that of a few key countries: the dominant industrial powers. Emerging currencies (e.g. of the BRICS) based on economies that are still irregular are also part of it. These currencies compete with those of the key countries, which happen to be recording sluggish growth at present. This is an additional source of instability. The second series of articles in the special issue will therefore focus on the ways in which the international order has been devastated by the impulses and hesitations of a number of countries in monetary matters. It will also deal with the factors behind the rise of claims to monetary sovereignty, and will examine the effectiveness of the instruments and monetary strategies adopted by emerging economies in the context of monetary strife.

3) Regional monetary challenges – Many economies from the South that have to deal with international monetary and financial instability are involved in regional monetary cooperation and financial regionalism, trying to work out autonomous or coordinated strategies on a regional basis. Examples of this are the Chiang Mai initiative, the new regional financial architecture in South America; there are also others. The third series of contributions will study regional monetary strategies in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, the reasoning behind them, and their prospective longer-term ability to alter the political and economic balance of power in the international monetary system.

4) International monetary challenges – The pivotal role of the dollar in the international monetary system is being criticised more and more frequently, as are the “exorbitant privileges” of the country issuing it. Financial imbalances are worsening and alternatives are gaining ground. Could internationalisation of the euro, the yuan and/or other major currencies help to promote a more equitable international monetary system? Is the challenge to the dollar’s supremacy a source of conflicts? Is it realistic to envision a supranational currency? The fourth series of articles in our issue will deal with tectonic shifts in the international monetary system, and its ongoing re-composition. The articles will focus in particular on the underlying tension in the relationship between the dollar, the euro and the yuan, in order to test the relevance of the hypothetical monetary polycentricism that is currently being aired.

Articles should be submitted in French or English, and should not exceed 10 000 words in length (including notes and bibliography). Publication guidelines may be consulted here.

Articles should be sent to the following four addresses:

Submission deadline: November 15th, 2014