Quick Notes on: Aglietta, M.  (1982) 'World Capitalism in the Eighties'.  New Left Review 136: 5-42

[Aglietta was a member of the 'French Regulation' school analyzing international capitalism. He also produced a good account of 'postfordism' from this perspective]

The introduction says that we should not pursue the 'capital logic' approach to the world economy.  In practice, there are two hegemonic centres in the UK and the U.S.  The capital logic approach is also 'mute as to the role of the class struggle' [although this is hardly discussed in this article too.  People like Rancière or Roggero offer a better accounts].

This article discusses various kinds of national and international regulation as forms of cohesion.  Regulations are found in various kinds institutions, but they correlates with 'underlying tendencies of accumulation'(seven) it's possible to compare American and British hegemony to discuss this: there are major structural differences, and comparison involves looking at 'forms of international regulation' (comparative or monopolistic); main patterns of specialisation (vertical or horizontal, between countries); modes of internationalisation of capital (export capital, import of labour, and so on); International Financial mediation (through the finance market, investment or debt); the monetary system; the international structure of claims and debts (whether private banks hold Sterling deposits, for example); the regulation of the balances of payments; factors determining trade balances.

Cohesion is a matter of not polarising the differences between countries either in surplus or debt.  It takes the form of the establishment of the hegemonic centre whose principles of regulation diffuse outwards, and can even eventually undermine peripheral activities.  [This leads to a lengthy analysis of economic stability as the mechanisms changed in various ways, producing 'the cohesion of crisis'] including inflationary pressures and the U.S., a convergence of industrial structures, partly to undermine American advantage, and the development of the distinctive model in Japan, which grew and escaped international links by refusing imports, and allowing a private money market to grow in dollars which would escape American regulation.  Japan's expansion was driven by banking practices rather than the means to trade.  There was also the rise in oil rents above the rate of accumulation of capital leading to increased costs with no increased consumption for oil states.  There was also a polarisation of world debts between first and third worlds.

These crises emerge because the regulation mechanisms obviously did not work.  Cohesion arises when all economies are monetarized through the international money market [of course there were massive instabilities to come in 2008].  This ran the risk of a virtuous cycle turning into a vicious one, however.

Sources of instability include those devices used by firms to convert assets to different currencies in money markets.  They do this to escape state regulation, but they risk 'self fulfilling speculation'(30).  The conversion to money disengages money from economic conditions, and [takes on a life of its own] through the financing of debts or the transfer of capital.  There is now no common reference point for these transfers of value and so no possible regulation.  Further, the scale of operations is now so big that the National Banks can't control it by the usual devices such as buying currencies, without destabilising internal economies by permitting fluctuations [we know a lot more about this these days as well!].  One effect of this instability is to produce odd combinations of monetary and fiscal developments, so that countries can have, for example, a good trade balance but a high rate of inflation and high interest rates (34).

The possibilities for the future include a general stagflation, a revival of the American economy, a revival of Western Europe, or financial collapse and the fragmentation of the world economy!

So attempts to install hegemonic regulation began as an attempt to hold potentially competing countries together.  National states are inevitably in relation with each other, and want to assert national control over their currency, but also aware that they depend on international stability.  National control is necessary to avoid the devaluation of national assets.  There are clearly political dimensions as well, for example Europe is unlikely to be a new regional centre because it is so unstable internally, between the nations (40, 41) [pretty good prediction of the fate of the Euro].  Stability will require some sort of state intervention, and further unification of the EEC [dead right!].

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