20 June 2019, 4:30 – 5:30pm, Auditorium 1,

QA Higher Education, 10 Rosebery Avenue, Holborn, London EC1R 4TF

In this special lecture, Professor Lysandrou (research professor at City University, London) will consider the themes of globalisation, finance and inequality. Drawing on his recent book, Commodity: The Global Commodity System in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2018), Photis will consider the extent to which inequality played a causal role in the financial crisis of 2008, and so draw out lessons for the present. Are we vulnerable to a repetition of the economic disturbance of a decade ago? Did an increasing concentration of global wealth, in conjunction with declining investment opportunities, lead to a search for higher yield and so more exotic (and opaque) instruments? A recurring theme in Professor Lysandrou’s work is a contrast between the perspective of international markets and its logic – that sees resources, and productive capacity as assets – and a local perspective that sees them, primarily as a means to lead a meaningful and secure life. These are powerful and urgent themes – see, for example, Rajan, 2019 (in his book The Third Pillar) for a perspective from Chicago Business School – and Photis’ trenchant analysis is rooted deep in socioeconomic theory.

What Professor Lysandrou has to say concerns us all now. Unless you have been away on Mars these last few years, you will not have missed the political success of populist social and economic agendas. From the White House to the Élysée Palace, from Orbán in Hungary to the recent election of a professional comedian to the presidency of Ukraine, populist policies have become the order of the day.

For many, the populist swing is a reaction to the anonymous forces unleashed by more open and less regulated international markets. While globalisation was until, say, the mid-2000s, a spur to growth in the industrialised nations, a reverse trend, most would agree, is now ascendant. Countries in parts of South East Asia, South America and Africa, long used to hosting technologically and managerially advanced companies from more mature markets, have, manifestly, absorbed the expertise needed to bring their own products to international markets. What is more, these products have the lubrication of the established infrastructure of globalisation – lower tariffs, low-friction logistics, and so on.

One important strand in this unfolding narrative has been the growth and complexity of international finance, both in the nature of its products and in the labyrinthine structure of its international networks. A less familiar part concerns the relationship between inequality and finance. While for some, unequal incomes and wealth are a necessary casualty or, indeed, a sign of a thriving economy, others are concerned about its impact. Pointing to a decade long fall in the share of wages in national income, they note how essential consumer spending is to stable expansion beyond austerity – and those at the lower end of the income spectrum tend to do more of it. But how important is inequality to the story of the financial crisis, and is it really a good idea to make distribution a central component of post-austerity economic policy?

Please come to the lecture to hear Professor Lysandrou’s argument and decide for yourself. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

If you would like further information please contact Dr Craig Duckworth, Associate Dean, Academic Research, QA Higher Education, Holborn, London, craig.duckworth@qa.com.

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