Mariana Mazzucato, winner of the inaugural prize.
Show Hide image

Mariana Mazzucato wins the New Statesman SPERI prize for political economy

Mazzucato wins the inaugural prize for her work on the “entrepreneurial state” and innovation in the public sector.

Mariana Mazzucato, of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, has been awarded the inaugural New Statesman SPERI prize in political economy.

The prize was launched this year by the New Statesman magazine and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) at the University of Sheffield.

The Prize will be awarded biennially to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience over the preceding two or three years.

The shortlist for the prize contained some of the most innovative and exciting thinkers in political economy working today. The nominees were: Ha-Joon Chang (University of Cambridge); Mariana Mazzucato (University of Sussex); Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics); Wolfgang Streeck (Max Planck Institute, Cologne); Anne Wren (Trinity College, Dublin); and Simon Wren-Lewis (University of Oxford).

The Prize Jury was Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman; George Eaton, Political Editor of the New Statesman; Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI; Professor Andrew Gamble, Professor of Politics at the University of Cambridge and Chair of the International Advisory Board of SPERI; Sarah O’Connor, Economics Correspondent at the Financial Times; and Gavin Kelly, Chief Executive of The Resolution Foundation.

In their announcement of the shortlist, the jury said of the winner: “Mariana Mazzucato is a professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex.  She is an accomplished broadcaster and writer, and her 2013 book The Entrepreneurial State contained a wealth of examples showing how the state – not just the private sector – could foster innovation.  The judges praised the originality of her thinking, her willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom and her capacity to take her arguments forward with gusto.”

Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, added: “Mariana Mazzucato is one of the most engaging and interesting thinkers currently working in the field of political economy. Her work on the entrepreneurial state and smart growth is required reading for anyone working in economic policy-making.”

Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI, noted: “Mariana Mazzucato is a fabulous first winner of this new Prize.  She fulfils the criteria that describe the prize to the letter.”

Professor Mazzucato said: “I am honoured and delighted to receive the New Statesman SPERI prize, especially given the high calibre of the shortlist.  I hope it will help focus attention on the urgent need to tackle rising inequality.  This is not just about tax: we need to fundamentally rethink how we talk about wealth creation. Ignoring the key role of the state – or the tax payer – in wealth creation has, in my view, been a lead cause of inequality, allowing some (hyped up) actors to reap a rate of return way beyond their actual contribution.  My Prize Lecture will focus on this dysfunctional dynamic – and what to do about it.”

Professor Mazzucato will deliver the New Statesman SPERI Prize Lecture at the Emmanuel Centre in London at 6.30pm on Thursday 13 November. Its title will be: “Smart growth: an innovative way to tackle inequality”. The lecture is free but places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis - please register here.

 

Notes for editors:

Mariana Mazzucato (PhD) holds the prestigious RM Phillips chair in the Economics of Innovation at SPRU in the University of Sussex. Previously she has held academic positions at the University of Denver, London Business School, Open University, and Bocconi University. Her research focuses on the relationship between financial markets, innovation, and economic growth--at the company, industry and national level. Between 2009-2012 she directed a large 3 year European Commission FP7 funded project on Finance and Innovation (FINNOV); her current project on Financing Innovation is funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET); and her project on Finance and Mission Oriented Investments is funded by the Ford Foundation's Reforming Global Financial Governance initiative. Her new book The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths (Anthem, 2013)--on the 2013 Books of the Year list of the Financial TimesForbes and the Huffington Post--focuses on the need to develop new frameworks to understand the role of the state in economic growth—and how to enable rewards from innovation to be just as ‘social’ as the risks taken. In 2013 the New Republic called her one of the '3 most important thinkers about innovation'. She advises the UK government and the EC on innovation-led growth. Her research outputs, media engagement, and talks (including her TED Global talk), can be found on her website.  

Garry Knight via Creative Commons
Show Hide image

Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.