Keith Hart on Fri, 28 Sep 2012 12:35:48 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> P2P Foundation: A Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy (new book)

On Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 10:52 AM, Felix Stalder <> wrote:
> Are markets retreating, after decades of expansion, even as the public
> sector shrinks as well?

This is a great question, Felix. I have thought about the relationship
between market and non-market production a lot and once wrote a
chapter in Sen/Hawthorn The Standard of Living (1988) that looked
at historical fluctuations in commoditisation for rich and poor
countries. Withholding goods and services from the market often
means that their sale price is higher and the opposite when market
penetration increases. This has consequences for measuring the
standard of living. It is equally true that such fluctuations occur in
both directions at different times and in different sectors.

Have you noticed variations in the relative price of commodities when
you take your own consumer preferences to another country for a while?
Some things seem absurdly expensive and others remarkably cheap, so
that it pays to adapt to local preferences. The idea that markets
could be in retreat depends on similarly restricted vision. Just to
take the production of knowledge which concerns you, would you say
that markets are retreating in higher education? Having hung out in
the universities for half a century, it doesn't look like that to me.
And what do we make of the pseudo-markets that have been introduced
into evaluation by the bureaucracy, feeding as they do the academic
publishing oligopoly?

Our friendship goes back to the days when we both bought into
community currency idea. After a while, the claims of the alternative
economy boosters that we have reached a tipping point unfavourable to
orthodox capitalism begin to wear thin. I want to believe too, but it
will take more than an economist article on car-sharing to persuade me
that the new order is (once again) just round the corner.

And what is the evidence for cutbacks in the public sector? Where?
Brazil, India, China and South Africa are all busy building welfare
states to cater for their expanding middle classes. It reminds me of
the Great Depression of 1873-1896 which turned out to be a squeeze on
the returns to British middle class savings in consols while the rest
of the world was booming.


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