“Fractals of Governance: The Management of Systemic Risk at the Limits of Advanced Liberalism, 1913–2008 ”
Senior Research Fellow in the Program on Science, Technology and Society, Harvard Kennedy School
January 27, 2022, Thursday, 17:30
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In Fractals of Governance (under contract with MIT Press), I examine the co-production of “the economy” and the macroeconomic state in the United States. Whereas conventional accounts construct this history as an epochal transition––driven by ideational or interest-based factors––from Keynesianism to neoliberalism, I show it is best explained as a pragmatic, reiterative policy making endeavor to manage “systemic risk.” Systemic risk is at once an old and a novel problem: It is old, because it signifies capitalism’s crisis tendencies. The macroeconomic state, indeed, was invented in the US during the interwar period to ameliorate this propensity. Yet, it is also novel, because these dynamics were remapped onto finance in the mid-1960s when American “Keynesians” repurposed the Federal Reserve as a macroeconomic manager to boost economic growth. This governmental project, however, necessitated ever larger bank bailouts and resulted in an increasingly fragile socio-political compact in the face of growing inequality. Repairing the damage, I conclude, requires reassigning macroeconomic management to fiscal authorities so that the Fed can act as a guardian of financial stability again.
Onur Özgöde is a Senior Research Fellow in the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School. As an economic sociologist working at the intersection of American political development, international political economy, science and technology studies (STS), and historical sociology, he specializes in critical policy studies, with a particular focus in economic governance. In broadest terms, he is interested in the emergence and governance of socio-economic problems that are produced by markets but cannot be managed through market-based liberal technologies of government, notably systemic risk, extreme inequality, and climate change. Since August, 2020, he has been part of the leadership team of an NSF-funded Harvard-Cornell joint international research project, Comparative Covid Response: Crisis, Knowledge, Policy (CompCoRe), that brings together nearly 60 researchers from 16 countries.