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Sussex economist to advise new Labour leadership

Professor Mariana Mazzucato

Professor Mariana Mazzucato from the University of Sussex is among seven economic experts appointed to a new Economic Advisory Committee to advise the Labour party on economic policy.

The announcement came ahead of new Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s speech to the Labour conference in Brighton yesterday (Monday 28 September), when he set out his plans to clear Britain’s deficit without cutting spending on public services and welfare.

In a new blog post for Project Syndicate, Professor Mazzucato has set out her ideas for a new "progressive economic agenda", writing: "I hope we will have a shared goal to help Labour shape an economic policy that is investment-led, inclusive, and sustainable.

"A progressive economic agenda must begin with the recognition that wealth creation is a collective process and that market outcomes are the product of how these various “wealth creators” interact."

In his speech, Mr McDonnell said: “We will draw on the unchallengeable expertise of some of the world’s leading economic thinkers,” including Professor Mazzucato, RM Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation at SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit; Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz; former Bank of England monetary policy committee member Danny Blanchflower; and Thomas Piketty, author of the bestselling book Capital in the 21st Century.

He explained that members of the committee would advise the party on the development and implementation of Labour’s economic strategy, to develop “a fairer and more prosperous economic alternative based upon investment and growth which reaches all sections of society”. He went on to say: “We will create what Mariana Mazzucato describes as the entrepreneurial state.”

The new advisory panel will hold quarterly meetings to discuss and develop policy ideas around economic strategy.

Professor Mazzucato has already worked closely with Chuka Umunna, former Shadow Business Secretary in the Labour party, as well as Vince Cable during his time as Business Secretary.

Both have publicly commented on the value of her work in speeches; Mr Cable cited Professor Mazzucato’s work at the opening of a conference in July 2014 and Mr Umunna asked Professor Mazzucato to contribute a chapter to his book, Owning the Future: How Britain can make it in a fast-changing world, published in August 2014.

In June 2015 Professor Mazzucato wrote an article for the Guardian on A new wealth-creating agenda for the Labour party.

Professor Mazzucato, author of the bestselling and influential book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking public vs. private sector myths, has become a leading voice on how to achieve smart, inclusive economic growth and the role of the state in modern capitalism.

In her book, Professor Mazzucato investigates the role of the public sector in the innovation process. Through many examples (including advances in IT, biotech, nanotech and clean-tech), she shows that the state has been a direct investor and risk-taker, along the entire innovation chain (not only basic research), making things happen that otherwise would not have.

Crucially, she argues that this role has not only ‘fixed’ markets; it has actively shaped and created markets. The lack of framework though which to understand the entrepreneurial role of the state creates misguided policies as well as a regressive dynamic where risks are socialized while the profits are privatized.

She proposes concrete solutions on how to reform this dysfunctional system, arguing for more mutualistic public-private partnerships.

Professor Mazzucato advises policy-makers around the world on how to achieve innovation-led growth and is currently working on projects for the Brazilian government and NASA.

She is also a member of the Scottish Council of Economic Advisers; a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Economics of Innovation; a permanent member of the European Commission’s expert group on Innovation for Growth (RISE); and a member of SITRA’s (the Finnish Innovation Fund) Advisory Panel. The Financial Times recently featured her in a ‘Lunch with the FT’ interview.

A University of Sussex film on the impact of Professor Mazzucato’s work includes an interview with former Science Minister, David Willetts.

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Posted on behalf of: SPRU
Last updated: Wednesday, 30 September 2015