It is difficult to find much to celebrate about the messy, contradictory post-American era in global financial governance. Controversially, I suggest that today’s incoherence includes productive and even transformative moments for countries of the global south and east. My argument draws on the work of Albert Hirschman, inveterate pragmatist, opponent of all “isms”, and champion of “possibilism.” Incoherence has created space for experimentation and innovation in a world marked by uncertainties, while generating new exits from noxious national and global policy environments. At a time when many on the right and the left yearn for a return to institutional coherence, we should be mindful that any new “ism” could reproduce the development policy constraints associated with the neoliberal era.
About the speaker
Ilene Grabel is Distinguished University Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver. Her book, When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence (The MIT Press, 2017), won the 2019 European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy Robinson Prize, the 2019 International Studies Association International Political Economy Best Book Award, and the 2018 British International Studies Association International Political Economy Book Prize. Grabel has conducted commissioned research for the Division of Globalization and Development Strategies and UNCTAD/G-24, the Human Development Report Office of the UNDP; International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth of the UNDP; United Nations Women, for which she wrote a “think piece” on permissive multilateralisms; the UN University/World Institute for Development Economics Research; and the NGOs Action Aid, Third World Network, and “New Rules for Global Finance.”