“The Market for Polities”: On International Institutional Competition Reflections occasioned by the 7th International Conference on the Role of State in Varieties of Capitalism (SVOC), Budapest, 29-30 November 2021
The Role of State in Varieties of Capitalism conference – SVOC2021 – was organized by the Institute of World Economics of the Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Budapest, Hungary and Democracy Institute of Central European University.
At this years’s edition, I have delivered a presentation entiled “The Market for Polities”: Citizens’ Welfare (as Consumers of Public Goods) by Way of States’ Competition (or Cartelization), that was based on a paper written together with Mihaela Iacob.
In brief, the perspective is the following:
The international political landscape is the result of the interplay of two opposite forces: on the one hand, there is “political fragmentation”; on the other hand, there is “political unification”. The first tendency involves former multinational and colonial empires, en route to be split into nation-states, while the second trend means the creation of political units, initially along national alignments, but also through cross-national “freedoms of movement” and “common policies”. These opposite tenors, pertaining to political phenomena, can be scrutinized with the analytical lenses proper to the economists’ profession, despite that the latter ones are quite heterogenous. However, beyond the intestine quarrels within the confines of modern/contemporary economics (among various schools or streams of thought), it is agreed that, from consumer welfare stance, more competition is the desirable state of affairs as against monopolies, oligopolies and cartels. This seemingly rock-solid rationale becomes fluid when applied to statehood: not only that the governments, as providers of public goods/services (ranging from “law and order” institutions to “roads and bridges” physical infrastructures), deny, by virtue of their sovereign command, domestic competition from peer-governments, but they are also dissatisfied with any sort of institutional/jurisdictional competition from abroad and cooperate so as to curb such competition. This paper tries to address two main points: firstly, having in mind consumers/citizens’ welfare standard, it will delve into the reasons for praising competition in “markets for goods”, while despising rivalry in “markets for polities”; secondly, it will assess, by some qualitative and quantitative proxy indicators, the current state of the institutional competition among states, manifested in the form of either migratory shifts or, even more sensibly, secessionist movements.
See Program and Book of abstracts here.