Volume 48, No. 3 | Political-economic regulation after the financial crisis

Hubert Buch-Hansen | The political economy of European cartel regulation

For many years, cartels were considered a natural and legitimate way of organizing markets throughout Europe. In the past few decades, however, a paradigm shift in the regulatory approach to cartels has taken place, both at national and EU level. This shift is for instance reflected in the increasingly tough sanctions imposed on cartel participants. The article adopts a critical political economy perspective on European cartel regulation and divides its development into two phases; as part of a ”regulated” form of capitalism and as an element in a neoliberal form of capitalism. The paradigm shift is mapped with examples from the EC/EU, Denmark and other European countries and explained with reference to changes in power relations, social structures and accumulation and prevailing ideas. Finally, the article asks whether there are signs that the economic crisis in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 will cause a new shift in the way cartels are regulated in Europe. 

Martin B. Carstensen | Small states in the perfect storm: crisis management and economic credibility in Ireland’s and Iceland’s financial crises

 Despite having lived through some of history’s greatest financial and economic crises, the two small open economies of Iceland and Ireland are now enjoying relatively high growth rates and declining unemployment, and are broadly regarded as success stories of effective economic turnarounds. In both countries, policy focused on restoring the confidence of international capital markets, but whereas Icelandic crisis management has compensated the people worst hit by the crisis through socially balanced austerity and debt cancellation, Ireland’s austerity followed a more orthodox, European approach with significant inequality-creating effects. Iceland’s heterodox approach was made possible through capital controls and a devaluation of the currency, while Ireland could neither devalue nor write down bank debt. The article shows how the dependence on international capital markets and the abandonment of independent monetary policy restrict the flexibility small states have previously enjoyed and increase dependence on fortunate developments in the world economy. 

Carsten Jensen, Seonghui Lee, Christoph Arndt and Georg Wenzelburger | How do voters react to welfare reforms?

Welfare state scholars debate whether reforms of the welfare state affect governments’ popularity. We have collected yearly data on reforms of old age pensions and unemployment protection in the United Kingdom back to 1946, which allows us to statistically test if welfare reforms affect government support. It does. Cutbacks reduce support, and expansions increase it. Especially the last result is interesting because the literature mostly focuses on cutbacks. Our results suggest that there is an almost symmetrical relationship, meaning that cutbacks and expansions have roughly the same effect, but in opposite directions. 

Bjarke Refslund | Regulatory policy and corporate homogeneity: a configurational comparative analysis of the occupational health and safety reform in 2010

Public policy often assumes that companies are a homogenous group, especially companies of a certain size. This assumption might be problematic, and the analysis tests the assumption on 14 companies and their implementation of the occupational health and safety (OHS) reform in Denmark in 2010 as well as the configuration of conditions leading to the outcome. The configurational analysis shows significant variation in the companies’ implementation of the legislative changes despite elements of reflexive legislation in the reform. The reflexivity in the regulation should enhance the companies’ ability to implement the changes. The analysis shows, among other things, that a lack of professional OHS organisation and employee involvement in the companies is a major obstacle to implementation of the reform. 

Søren Bøllingtoft Knudsen | Is ministers’ use of spin-strategies effective or not?

Hoping to maintain political power, governments rely on their ministers’ ability to play the political game. A key part of this is the blame game in which ministers employ different spin strategies. The question is what strategies they employ and how effective these strategies are? The article compares six Danish ministers’ use of spin strategies based on content coding of 1412 articles from the Danish newspaper Politiken. Generally, the use of spin strategies has not changed significantly over the past 20 years. The most effective way to handle critique is to employ one single spin strategy, the second-best strategy is passivity, and the worst a minister can do to avoid blame is to employ a combination of spin strategies. Finally, quick and slow responses are equally good/bad. 

Ophavsretten tilhører Politica. Materialet må ikke bruges eller distribueres i kommercielt øjemed.