Jamee K. Moudud

on leave spring semester

BS, MEng, Cornell University. MA, PhD (Honors), The New School for Social Research. Current interests include the study of industrial competition, the political economy of the developmental welfare state, the determinants of business taxes, and the study of Schumpeter’s analysis of the tax state. SLC, 2000–

Research and Interests

One of the oldest controversies in economics is the “state versus markets” debate, in which one group of authors has supported laissez faire while a rival group has been a proponent of state intervention.  Ironically, both of these rival perspectives implicitly assume that the state is fundamentally neutral and autonomous and therefore can implement the appropriate policies.  In contrast, my research draws on an alternative theoretical tradition, inspired by Karl Polanyi and others, which takes the view that the state and economic processes are enmeshed and co-evolve over time.  Quite simply, my research is based on the proposition that one cannot disentangle the state from the economy, leading to varying historically-determined policy outcomes.  I am currently studying not only how public policies (primarily taxation, social, and labor policies) shape economic processes but the deeper question regarding the ways in which structural and institutional factors, that evolve over time, mold the public policies themselves.  

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Fiscal Sociology, Public Finance, and the “Fiscal Crisis of the State”

Fall

Can a government run out of money, and are there limits to how high budget deficits and public debt can get? This a key question that we will investigate in this course by studying the factors that determine taxation, as well as the nature of money and public finance. The great economist Joseph Schumpeter said: “The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare—all this and more is written in its fiscal history, stripped of all phrases. He who knows how to listen to its message here discerns the thunder of world history more clearly than anywhere else.” Following Schumpeter, before him Rudolf Goldscheid, and after him Lord Nicholas Kaldor, a number of scholars in recent years have attempted to construct a new fiscal sociology that would investigate the challenges of public finance; in particular, a government’s taxation capacity in the context of its political economy, legal framework, power relations, historically-constructed institutions, and even cultural norms. This course will explore the nexus between a government’s taxation capacity, money and public finance, central banking, and public debt. We will also study the legal and political contexts within which money and central banking arose as capitalism developed. The course is designed for students seeking a historically-informed and interdisciplinary approach to the study of these topics.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Social Metrics I: Introduction to Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences

Fall

The course is designed for all students interested in the social sciences who wish to understand the methodology and techniques involved in the estimation of structural relationships between variables. It is intended for students who wish to be able to carry out empirical work in their particular field, both at Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, and critically engage empirical work done by academic or professional social scientists. The practical hands-on approach taken in this course will be useful to those students who wish to do future conference projects in the social (or natural) sciences with significant empirical content. It will also be invaluable for students who are seeking internships, planning to enter the job market, or desiring to pursue graduate education in the social sciences and public policy. After taking this course, students will be able to analyze questions such as the following: What is the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalist industrialization in the United States? What effects do race, gender, and educational attainment have in the determination of wages? How does the female literacy rate affect the child mortality rate? How can one model the effect of economic growth on carbon dioxide emissions? What is the relationship among sociopolitical instability, inequality, and economic growth? How do geographic location and state spending affect average public-school teacher salaries? How do socioeconomic factors determine the crime rate in the United States? During the course of the semester, we will study all of these questions. The course is broadly split up into three sections. In the first part, we will study the application of statistical methods and techniques in order to: a) understand, analyze, and interpret a wide range of social phenomena such as those mentioned above; b) test hypotheses/theories regarding the possible links between variables; and c) make predictions about prospective changes in the economy. Social metrics is fundamentally a regression-based correlation methodology used to measure the overall strength, direction, and statistical significance between a “dependent” variable—the variable whose movement or change is to be explained—and one or more “independent” variables that will explain the movement or change in the dependent variable. Social metrics will require a detailed understanding of the mechanics, advantages, and limitations of the “classical” linear regression model. Thus, the first part of the course will cover the theoretical and applied statistical principles that underlie Ordinary Lest Squares (OLS) regression techniques. This part will cover the assumptions needed to obtain the Best Linear Unbiased Estimates of a regression equation, also known as the “BLUE” conditions. Particular emphasis will be placed on the assumptions regarding the distribution of a model’s error term and other BLUE conditions. We will also cover hypothesis testing, sample selection, and the critical role of the t- and F-statistic in determining the statistical significance of a social metric model and its associated slope or “β” parameters. In the second part of the course, we will address the three main problems associated with the violation of a particular BLUE assumption: multicollinearity, autocorrelation, and heteroscedasticity. We will learn how to identify, address, and remedy each of these problems. In addition, we will take a similar approach to understanding and correcting model specification errors. The third part of the course will focus on the analysis of historical time-series models and the study of long-run trend relationships between variables.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

Critical Political Economics: Historical Foundations to Contemporary Issues

Fall

Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism remains one of the most significant contributions to economic theory in the history of economic thought. This course will focus on Marx’s analysis of capitalism—although, when relevant, we will also discuss other authors such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Polanyi, and Joseph Schumpeter. We will begin with the notion of surplus value and extend it to a general discussion of Marx’s distinction between production and nonproduction activities. We will then proceed to the analyses of capital accumulation, technological change, industrial competition, the recurrence of generalized economic crises, and the persistence of unemployment. Marx’s theory of competition will be used to study two issues: first, to study wage differentials on the basis of race and gender faced by workers with similar skill levels; and second, to discuss rent in agriculture and mining, an issue that will lead to the analysis of oil crises. Readings will primarily draw on selected sections from Capital (volumes I, II, and III), as well as some writings of a number of contemporary political economists.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Introduction to Development Studies

There is no consensus on what “development” is or how it can be achieved. In this course, students will be exposed to a wide range of debates and theories on the political economy of “development” in which the analytical framework will draw on several different disciplines—including economics, history, politics, and sociology—to investigate the challenges confronting countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as they have evolved historically. The objective of the course is for students to understand how the question of “development” has to be put in the context of unequal power relations within and between countries in the global political economic system. The course will enable students to engage contemporary debates on “development,” debates that essentially rage between, on the one hand, those who argue that free trade and transnational corporations will tend to reduce international inequalities and, on the other hand, those who argue that these are the factors that cause the inequalities and marginalize countries in less developed countries (LDCs). Further, the debate is also about the extent and scope of state involvement. We will pose the following questions and seek to engage the controversies that they have engendered. What are the historical roots of international inequalities? Should there be more or less government involvement in lowering international inequalities and domestic poverty? Should states in LDCs be involved in promoting industrialization and improving social protection, or should these goals be left to the free market? What was the historical experience of the industrialized countries with regard to the role of the state? Why have some states been more successful than others in promoting “development”? This course is for students who are interested in taking an interdisciplinary and historically-informed approach to analyzing domestic and international inequalities.

Faculty

Industrial Competition, Labor Relations, and Social Democracy: Controversies, Challenges, and Prospects

Spring

Contemporary economists who deal with labor relations (e.g., the analysis of wage determination and working conditions) do not explicitly discuss business investment and competitive decisions, while scholars in the industrial organization literature (who study the business firm and competition) do not deal with issues surrounding labor relations. Yet, in the real world, labor relations and industrial organization shape each other and the welfare state in complex ways. The purpose of this course is to investigate the nexus between these issues—in both theoretical and historical terms—and the implications for the development of the welfare state. The course has two broad parts. In the first part, we will investigate controversies regarding the nature of the business enterprise. It is part of the conventional discourse on economic policy that free-market competition is the key to bringing about national wealth creation with rising standards of living. And yet there is considerable debate in the literature on industrial organization theory regarding the nature of the capitalist firm and the environment within which it grows or dies. Drawing on the classic writings of Schumpeter, the Oxford Economists’ Research Group, the Institutionalist tradition, and others, this part of the class will introduce students to a wide variety of theoretical perspectives on the firm by contrasting the textbook neoclassical theories of the firm with other theoretical perspectives. In the second part of the course, we will investigate—from both a historical and an international perspective—the concrete institutional and political contexts that have led to particular links among business investment, labor relations, and social policy. We are particularly interested in investigating the ways in which business power and preferences have shaped social democratic (or progressive) labor and welfare state policies in the United States, Sweden, and Germany.

 

Faculty

Social Metrics II: Further Topics on Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences

Spring

The spring semester class is a seminar and builds on the fall class by introducing students to advanced topics in social metrics. We will study autoregressive dependent lag (ARDL) models, co-integration, and error correction models involving non-stationary time series. We will investigate simultaneous equations systems, vector error correction (VEC), and vector autoregressive (VAR) models. The final part of the seminar will involve the study of panel data, as well as logit/probit models. As with the fall class, the spring class will also be very “hands on” in that students will get ample exposure to concrete issues. Mathematical derivations will be kept to a minimum, as the goal is to train students to do practical work in social metrics. Also like the fall semester class, students will have to do joint collaborative projects in addition to conference work. Finally, methodological issues will be discussed throughout the semester. The spring semester is particularly relevant to students who wish to pursue graduate studies in a social science discipline, although it will be equally relevant for those seeking other types of graduate degrees that involve knowledge of intermediate-level quantitative analysis.

Faculty

Additional Information

Professional affiliations

Selected Publications

“Industrial Organization, Labor Relations, and Labor Market Outcomes”

Guest Editor for a special issue of Review of Keynesian Economics

(April 2014)

“State-Business Relations and the Financing of the Welfare State in Latin America: Challenges and Prospects (with Enrique Delamonica and Esteban Perez) (2014)”

Paper for UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development) project on The Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Social Development

Featured in The Road to Addis and Beyond: Financing for Social Development, a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 2015

Policy as a Contested Process: Notes for Heterodox Economists

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Lee, F. S. and Cronin, B (eds.). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (2014)

International Economics: An Encyclopedia of Global Trade, Capital, Labor, Technology, and Innovation

International Economics: An Encyclopedia of Global Trade, Capital, Labor, Technology, and Innovation

Co-edited with Cyrus Bina. Greenwood Press (2014)

Alternative Theories of Competition: Challenges to the Orthodoxy

Alternative Theories of Competition: Challenges to the Orthodoxy

Co-editors: Bina, Cyrus and Mason, Patrick. Routledge Press (2012)

Strategic Competition, Dynamics, and the Role of the State: A New Perspective

Strategic Competition, Dynamics, and the Role of the State: A New Perspective

New Directions in Modern Economics Series, Edward Elgar Press (2010)

“Neoliberalism and the Developmental State: Considerations for the New Partnership for African Development (with Karl Botchway)”

In Benjamin Bobo and Herman Sentim-Aboagye (eds) Building Africa: the Core Truth

Africa World Press (2012)

“The Role of the State and Harrod’s Economic Dynamics. Toward a New Policy Agenda?”

International Journal of Political Economy

vol. 38, no. 1. (2009)

“The Search for a New Developmental State (with Karl Botchway)”

International Journal of Political Economy

Fall (Special issue on the developmental state)

“Surplus”

In William Darity, Jr., (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences

2nd edition, 8 volumes, MacMillan Reference, Detroit, MI. (2007)

“Competition”

In William Darity, Jr., (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences

2nd edition, 8 volumes, MacMillan Reference, Detroit, MI. (2007)

“Economic Growth”

In R. J. Barry Jones, (ed.) Encyclopedia of International Political Economy

Routledge Press, U.K. (2001)

Favorite Quotes

The testimony of the facts contradicts the liberal thesis decisively. The antiliberal conspiracy is a pure invention. The great variety of forms in which the “collectivist” countermovement appeared was not due to any preference for socialism or nationalism on the part of concerted interests, but exclusively to the broader range of vital social interests affected by the expanding market mechanism…each of these Acts dealt with some problem arising out of modern industrial conditions and was aimed at the safeguarding of some public interest against the dangers inherent either in such conditions or, at any rate, in the market method dealing with them…Most of those who carried these measures were convinced supporters of laissez faire, and certainly did not wish their consent to the establishment of a fire brigade in London to imply a protest against the principles of economic liberalism. On the contrary, the sponsors of these legislative acts were as a rule uncompromising opponents of socialism, or any other form of collectivism.
The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.
Modern economics is sick. Economics has increasingly become an intellectual game played for its own sake and not for its practical consequences for understanding the economic world. Economists have converted the subject into a sort of social mathematics in which analytical rigour is everything and practical relevance is nothing.
Both students and faculty find economics obsessed with technique over substance . . . the many macro and micro theory exams the Commission examined . . . tested mathematical puzzle-solving ability, not substantive knowledge about economics . . . Only 14 percent of the students report that their core courses put substantial emphasis on 'applying economic theory to real-world problems'.