Futures of State Capitalism in the Global North, East and South

6 March 2024

Margaret Anstee Centre seminar: Futures of State Capitalism

Dr Ilias Alami, Assistant Professor in the Political Economy of Development at the Centre of Development Studies (CDS) and Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, presented on the topic of Futures of State Capitalism in the Global North, East and South.

Dr Alami’s work in this area is based on research he has conducted over the past six years, much of it with his collaborator Prof Adam Dixon of Edinburgh Business School. Dr Alami began by defining state capitalism as being where the state plays a strong role in the economy, where it owns or controls significant assets and means of production, or is active in creating and shaping markets.

Examples include state-owned utilities or sovereign financial institutions. While state capitalism is often closely associated with the economic policies of China and other ‘emerging economies’, it is clear that many countries worldwide engage in state capitalism, including the USA and EU countries, and that this is a deepening trend.

Dr Alami identified five areas where this can be seen: in sovereign wealth funds held by many countries as varied as Norway, Angola and Kazakstan; the revival of state-owned enterprises including in the oil sector; the re-emergence of national development and policy banks in many counteies, including South Korea and Peru, to name two; the growth of national industrial policies to develop and protect particular industries such as semiconductors; and the growth of trade and investment restrictions.

Dr Alami argues therefore that state capitalism can be seen as a global phenomenon within the world economy. In his talk he looked in detail at the implications of state capitalism on economic processes such as the development of markets, competition and trade. He identified six factors within the “new” state capitalism: geographic, financial, corporate, geopolitical, economic and technological. Looking to the future Dr Alami noted that climate change will have an impact on all these factors, heightening their salience and state capitalism is likely to continue to develop and deepen to tackle the challenges the planet faces.

Dr Alami’s new book, The Specter of State Capitalism, co-authored with Adam Dixon, will be published this June and will be Open Access.

Recording of the talk.

Dr Ilias Alami, 6 March 2024, Newnham College, Cambridge