CEE General Seminar: “Polanyi in Frankfurt: Supranational money and national disembedding of labor?”, November 3 (Sciences Po, France)

That the international monetary regime conditions the social consequences of economic integration was a key insight of both Polanyi and Ruggie’s analyses of “embeddedness.” It has been neglected, however, in the Polanyi-inspired debate on the social consequences of European integration. Focusing on the Court of Justice and the Commission as the supranational enforcers of the legallogic of integration, the literature has paid insufficient attention to the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) as the supranational enforcer of the economic logic of integration. While Polanyi conceptualized central banking as an institution of non-market coordination that evolved to protect the domestic economy from gold standard pressures, the ECB has acted as an enforcer of disembedding “euro standard” pressures vis-à-vis national labor market and welfare state institutions. Our mixed-methods analysis of public speeches and other documents offers the first comprehensive study of the ECB’s preferences for structural reforms during the period 1999-2019. It reveals that the ECB, despite lacking both the mandate and the authority to directly change national institutions, pushed for structural reforms via discursive advocacy, monetary policy, and conditionality. Our results suggest that the prospects for Polanyian non-market coordination are determined by Frankfurt as much as by Luxembourg and Brussels.

Speaker: Benjamin Braun, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne

Benjamin Braun is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. His current research projects focus on the politics of central banking and on the political economy of asset manager capitalism. Benjamin’s work has been published, among others, in Socio-Economic Review, Review of International Political Economy, and Economy and Society.

Discussion: Cyril Benoît, Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS & Mattia Lupi, Sciences Po, CEE & MaxPo

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