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David Woodruff

Interview with David Woodruff: “Financial Market Governs by Panic”

2016. Vol. 17. No. 2. P. 11–20 [issue contents]

David Woodruff, associate professor of Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was interviewed at the Volkswagen Summer School “Governance, Markets, and Institutions: Russia and Germany Compared,” which took place at the Free University Berlin, September 26–October 10, 2015. As a guest lecturer, Woodruff gave a presentation, “Eurozone Governance and Global Financial Stability.” The interview was prepared by Elena Gudova, a PhD student and teacher at the Higher School of Economics.
David Woodruff explains the origins of his interest in Karl Polanyi’s famous work The Great Transformation and how he applies Polanyi’s ideas to the 1990s economic reforms in Russia and the current crisis in the Eurozone. According to Prof. Woodruff, Polanyi’s work is becoming increasingly important today because it analyzes the foundations of the neoliberal market approach and government attempts to shield markets from political processes.
In his book Money Unmade: Barter and the Fate of Russian Capitalism [Woodruff 2000a], Woodruff discusses barter and debt offsets in Russia before the devaluation of 1998 as a defensive reaction of society to attempts to introduce market liberalism of the sort Polanyi analyzed, employing analogous means of mitigating the price mechanism. Another of Polanyi’s ideas that Woodruff highlights is the way the gold standard strengthened the political influence of bankers and financiers by creating the possibility for panic on the financial markets.
Woodruff also refers to the term “ordoliberalism” to describe a specific form of liberal policies. Ordoliberalism argues that the state is necessary for market functioning but that its actions must conform to strict and sharply defined rules. The potential inflexibility of these rules, even in the face of market panic, helps to make the prospect of panic an important tool of political influence. In conclusion, Woodruff also notes that the study of ordoliberalism’s history could give us some understanding as to why some countries prosper while others do not, and how different ethical issues overlap with the economic doctrines of distinct states.

Citation: Woodruff D. (2016) Interv'yu s Devidom Vudraffom: «Finansovyy rynok pravit cherez paniku» [Interview with David Woodruff: “Financial Market Governs by Panic”]. Economic Sociology, vol. 17, no 2, pp. 11-20 (in Russian)
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