Union for Radical Political Economics
2013 Annual Report

I. Membership

Membership has risen from the mid 300s to over 400 in the last five years. Membership is in two tiers: full membership which includes subscriptions to the RRPE and the newsletter; and limited membership which includes a subscription to the newsletter only.  Both tiers come with full voting rights.

II. Activities

In 2013 we received 97 manuscripts of which we accepted 19 and rejected 60, for an acceptance rate of 20 percent. Seventy percent were from countries other than the United States.  The volume of submissions was not significantly higher than 2012 when special issues are factored in (20 submissions were for special issues).  We received 24 book reviews of which we accepted 22 and rejected 2, for an acceptance rate of 92 percent.  (Note that accepted and rejected submissions do not necessarily sum to total received because some manuscripts are under review.)

We received 5 ASSA papers from the 2014 Philadelphia ASSA meetings. We accepted all 5.  The low submission rate was in part due to the extreme weather problems in the Eastern United States that prevented presenters from travelling to the meetings.  For the first time we allowed submissions from the EEA meetings (the Easterns), held this year in Boston.  Four papers were submitted (currently still under review).  Accepted EEA papers will appear in the annual proceedings issue, now moved from number 3 to number 4 to accommodate the March EEA meeting date.

Total institutional subscriptions was 7,336, up approximately 14% over 2012.

Special issues currently being reviewed are: 1) The Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings, 2) The Political Economy of Sustainable Development, and 3) The Commons and the Common. A call for papers has been sent out for a new special issue:  Economics and Morality.

The current managing editor will retire as of the San Francisco ASSA meetings in January 2016. A search committee has been formed and an announcement will be publicly made this spring, with interviews of candidates taking place at the Boston ASSAs in January 2015.

URPE continues to be allotted 16 sessions at the ASSA convention, and there does not seem to be any threat of a reduction in the foreseeable future. The last reduction attempt was eight years ago and our attendance in recent years has been respectable enough (thanks to Al Campbell for keeping our own records of attendance to help defend ourselves against possible reduction attempts in the future). 

One of our sessions is for the Gordon Lecture, one is for a joint URPE-AEA session, and three are shared with IAFFE. So that leaves 11 sessions that are open for our submission process.  In recent years, we have been encouraging proposals for full sessions, rather than individual papers, in order to make our sessions more coherent, and have been successful in this regard.  However, one downside of this “full session” strategy is that it puts younger scholars at a disadvantage, because they are less likely to organize full sessions or to be asked to participate in sessions organized by others.  We are considering dedicating two sessions for younger members, which might be less thematic.  We are also investigating the possibility of adding a poster session. 

In the 2013 meetings, the Gordon Lecture was by Duncan Foley and the joint URPE-AEA session was on “Increasing Inequality in America: Contending Theories.” The joint session was even reported in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/magazine/income-inequality.html, which may have been an URPE at ASSA first. In the upcoming 2014 meetings, the Gordon Lecture will be by Tom Weisskopf and the joint session will be on “Debating Marginal Productivity Theory of Distribution.”  As you can see, we are trying to use the joint session to engage in critical dialogue with the mainstream (URPE members presenting papers and mainstream economists as discussants).  One advantage of such an ASSA session is that mainstream economists have to respond to our criticisms (since we are in the same room!), rather than just ignoring us as they usually do.

Eastern Economic Association
The Eastern Economic Association (EEA) 2013 Conference was May 9-11 in New York City. URPE had 24 sessions at the meetings, including one organized jointly with Capitalism, Socialism & Nature.  The quality of the papers was outstanding and demonstrated the wide variety of topics among which financial crises, developing economies, poverty, inequality, gender, and methodology were prominent. We also held a membership meeting and a reception at the conference, both of which were well attended.

URPE Brooklyn Conference: Political Economy of the Environment
The URPE Conference on the “Political Economy of the Environment” took place on October 5, 2013 at St. Francis College, Brooklyn. A total of 82 conference participants attended plenary sessions and workshops that brought together people with experience in both the development of radical political economic theory and the environmental movement.  Unlike other URPE conferences, all of the presentations focused on the single topic of the environment. (The conference program is available on the URPE website.) The emphasis throughout was on the dialogue that would both advance this theory and strengthen our movement.  Informal discussion on both of these continued for two hours after the end of the formal program—stay tuned for future developments.

URPE at Left Forum
URPE is an interdisciplinary association of both academics and activists (not exclusive categories!) devoted to the study, development, and application of radical political economic analysis to social problems. While many of our presentations in the ASSAs and the Easterns have important implications for activism, they are mostly academic in form. The Left Forum is the largest yearly conference we take part in that is mostly activists (again, many of those also being academics), and whose presentations are often non-academic in form. It is a major gathering of the activist left in the U.S.: in 2013 there were 4,000 participants, more than 1,200 speakers and hundreds of panels. URPE contributes from 2 or 3 up to 10 panels to the Left Forum in a given year, and in 2013 we sponsored or co-sponsored 8. Because of the size of this conference, every year those URPE members who go, beyond making our small contribution to this broad collective effort, are simply flooded with experiences from the current fight for a radical political economy and a human-centered social transformation.

Economy Connection
Economy Connection, now in its 16th year, continued to arrange speaking engagements and provide resources during 2013. A number of URPE people offered to interpret financial documents for a Detroit organization fighting predatory banks. Five URPE members were interviewed on KPFT (Pacifica's Houston station) about their visions of socialism, and the personal and political experiences that inspired these views. These interviews, and other EC talks, can be heard at urpe.org/ec/talks.htm. Occupy Queens hosted three EC speakers who led lively discussions after showings of Koch Brothers Exposed, Sicko, and Inside Job. An URPE member led a workshop on introducing radical curricula, and another on capitalism and its lack of freedom, at student conferences in NYC and Bar Harbor. A community group in the Bronx invited an EC speaker to discuss the government shutdown. An EC member critiqued Gregory Mankiw's ideas in an interview for a film on the obstacles encountered while trying to learn economics from mainstream professors. EC also provided resources and speaker lists on charter schools, immigration, European Crisis, and NYC finances, and organized a panel on Strategies for Environmental Justice at URPE's recent Brooklyn Conference.

The URPE newsletter has had success in attracting a variety of submissions in the last year, ranging from abstracts, short research articles and opinion pieces along with our usual content of updates, announcements and the Economy Connection report. With each quarterly deadline, a “call for content”  email is sent to the listserv and pieces are then electronically submitted to the editor and approved for print after the membership status of the author is verified. We look forward to another year of increased participation by the URPE membership in the newsletter. 

www.urpe.org The URPE website provides up-to-date information on URPE activities, a place to obtain or renew URPE membership electronically, and information and resources on political economy and teaching political economy. The URPE website had 33,000 visitors in 2013, a number we hope to increase in 2014.  New features this year include a members page with announcements of members’ activities and a members book page, which lists new books written by URPE members.

In 2012 URPE decided to do an overhaul on its website with the goal of increasing its role in URPE’s mission of promoting and developing radical political economy. The three main pillars of the overhaul are 1) adding new material that will be of use to URPE members and others fighting for deep economic-social change, 2) a cleaning up of the site and its navigation to make it (still) easier to use, and 3) committing human resources for its continuous updating once the new site is launched (to avoid the problem of some of its parts going out of date or becoming dead that we face at present).  While we moved less quickly than we hoped a year ago, we did develop the computer skills in two additional members to first overhaul and then maintain the site, and the first testing versions of the overhauled site are appearing as 2013 ends. The new site should go live in spring 2014.

The URPE blog has only published seven new entries in 2013—one by Dale Johnson, one by Tim Koechlin, one by Julio Huato, two by Paddy Quick, and two by Richard McIntyre and Michael Hillard.  In 2013, the blog has gotten 3,133 hits—down from 3,590 in 2012 and 4,489 in 2011(record year since the blog's inception in 2008).

Facebook page
At the end of 2014, the URPE Facebook group had 1,359 members, which the members use to announce events of interest and share information relevant to URPE members.  The group's growth has increased its rate noticeably in 2013.

URPE maintains the URPE Listserve for members. Intended NOT as a blog or discussion site (which we also have), this light-traffic internal communications instrument helps keep URPE members current on political economy events they might be interested in, recent publications by URPE members, and job openings, and serves as a channel to ask other URPE members for suggestions on texts and materials for courses or projects.

Collaboration with other organizations
URPE continues to emphasize collaboration with other organizations. The URPE Conference on Political Economy and the Environment was co-sponsored by New Politics.  URPE contributed to the scholarship fund for Geoff Schneider’s  “ Advanced Pedagogy and Course Design Workshop” to be held in Philadelphia.before the 2014 ASSA meetings.  Scholars from other fields participated in URPE sessions at the Eastern Economic Association conference and elsewhere. 

URPE history
The URPE steering committee established a committee on URPE history to review and improve the presentation of the history of radical economics in part to prepare for URPE’s 50th anniversary in 2018.

III. National Office and Financial

National Office
Frances Boyes has replaced Pat Duffy as National Office Manager.   We thank Pat for her  years of outstanding service to URPE and welcome back Frances, who was previously National Office Manager.

URPE has been operating in the black for the past several years and can anticipate continuing to do so for the next several years. In 2013 URPE had revenues of approximately $150,500 and expenses of approximately $137,000.  URPE’s revenues derive mainly from two sources:  royalties from the publishing contract with Sage for the Review of Radical Political Economics (75 percent of revenues) and membership dues (10 percent of revenue).  Other sources of revenue include interest on savings, donations, conference registration fees, and other occasional income.

URPE’s largest expenses are payroll for the Office Manager and the Managing Editor, equaling approximately 50 percent of the total expenses. Other expenses include the operating budget for the RRPE, general administration for the national office, travel for the Steering Committee to SC semi-annual meetings and for the Office Manager, our Speaker’s Bureau, and other occasional expenses.

We have been investing in certificates of deposit and our assets have grown steadily, ending 2013 at $226,500 largely in interesting-bearing bank accounts. URPE has also invested approximately $30,000 in shares in Equal Exchange, a business which promotes coffee and other products grown in cooperatives and under fair trade guidelines.  The Steering Committee has determined that URPE should not invest more than 15% of its assets in anything other than FDIC-insured accounts.


IV. People

We would like to acknowledge the following people whose efforts make URPE possible.

URPE members whose radical political economy analysis and other efforts to understand and change society are the reason for URPE’s existence.

The Review of Radical Political Economy editors
Hazel Dayton Gunn (Managing Editor), Enid Arvidson (2003-2015), Fletcher Baragar  (2010-2016), David Barkin (1991-2015) Brigitte Bechtold  (2000-2014),  Martha Campbell (2013-2016), Firat Demir (2009-2014), William Dugger (2005-2014) , Don Goldstein (2003-2014), Davide Gualerzi (2010-2016), Christopher Gunn (1989-2016), Dorene Isenberg (2006-2015), Fadhel Kaboub (2006-2014), Michael Keaney (2013-2016), Marlene Kim (2007-2016), Mark Klinedinst (2013-2016), Tim Koechlin (2009-2014), Mehrene Larudee (2006-2015), Mark Lautzenheiser (2010-2016), Minqi Li (2010-2016), Victor Lippit 2004-2016), Andrew Mearman (2009-2014), Gary Mongiovi (1994-2015), Phillip O’Hara (2013-2016), Shaianne Osterreich (2005-2014), Bruce Pietrykowski (1996-2014), Paddy Quick (2006-2015), Daniel E. Saros (2013-2016), Susan Schroeder (2013-2016),  Ramaa Vasudevan (2007-2016), and Tamar Diana Wilson (2012-2015).

Steering Committee
The Steering Committee is made up of twelve members serving staggered three-year terms, so that every year four members’ terms expire.

Al Campbell (term expiring 2015); Scott Carter (term expiring 2015); Paul Cooney (term expiring 2014); Ann Davis (term expiring 2015); Armagan Gezici (term expiring 2014); Julio Huato (term expiring 2014); Laurie Nisonoff (term expiring 2015); Erik Olsen (term expiring 2016); Paddy Quick (term expiring 2016); Lane Vanderslice (term expiring 2014); Ramaa Vasudevan (term expiring 2016); Matias Vernengo (term expiring 2016)

URPE Coordinators
Frances Boyes, National Office Manager and Newsletter Editor, Fred Moseley, ASSA Coordinator, and Ruth Indeck, Economy Connection.

URPE members willing to make a significant but manageable commitment of time and talent are urged to consider running for election to the RRPE Editorial Board or the URPE Steering Committee.

Comments by members on the Annual Report and URPE activities are welcome and may be sent to Frances Boyes at the URPE National Office urpe@labornet.org .