My Research Fields from 1966 to the present

The first field of research was that of the Dauphiné region's economic history [1966] from the perspective of F. Perroux's ‘growth poles’ (in the steel and metal industry, in the textile industries) that coordinated multiple spaces (pre-capitalist/capitalist sectors, regional/world economy).

The research field of the international, or indeed the «world», economy

The international economy then claimed the whole of my attention, with a first book titled Problèmes de la croissance en économie ouverte (Problems of growth in an open economy) (1969), stemming from an additional doctoral thesis (1968). The most important contribution of this research was to reinstate the thought of A. Smith, D. Ricardo and K. Marx on the aims of foreign trade: to lift the internal national constraints of capital accumulation (the constraint of an industrial and agricultural domestic market that was too narrow in the case of Smith, the constraint of the increase of the price of wage goods in relation to the rise of the agricultural rent weighing on the evolution of firms' profit rate for Ricardo) by transferring them to the exterior and, to this end, establishing the legitimacy of international trade based on «laws» (Smith's law of absolute exchanges, the law of comparative costs for Ricardo). At the time, only these «laws» of international trade, and not the aims of foreign trade, were taught and continue to be so in Neoclassical economics (also called standard economics), but also in versions that like to think of themselves as more heterodox (à la P. Krugman).
This initial research work in international economics evolved considerably because of being questioned by the theses of P.A. Baran and P.M. Sweezy, by the contributions of the third-world current (Samir Amin, André Gunder Frank, …), by the thesis of unequal exchange developed by Arghiri Emmanuel, by the national liberation struggles, by the development practices in Africa in the wake of the accessions to independence, by the rise of anti-imperialist fronts (Tribunal Russel, then the ‘Lega Internazionale per i diritti e la liberazione dei popoli’ by P.Basso, …). All this led me, then, to a tentative representation, delivered in ‘L’économie mondiale capitaliste’ (The capitalist world economy) [1971], which was not that distant from F. Braudel's ‘world-economy’. And then came a shift towards a major actor of the world economy, rarely tackled until then: Les firmes multinationales (The multinational corporations) [1973], with a first attempt at conceptualisation.
With L’internationalisation du capital (The internationalisation of capital), I contributed, for the first time, to the conceptualisation of an ‘international capital’ (merchant, productive, financial), non enclosed in an internal domestic space, but which spreads its tentacles (via the multinational corporations) to all the economies of the world, unfolding processes of differentiation, of inequalities, contrary to contemporary economic thought on these issues. Other authors then took up this conceptualisation to a greater or lesser degree (N. Poulantzas, M. Aglietta, F. Chesnais, …).
However, as I have already indicated in ‘Hypothesis-construction’, what I delivered at the time in this part of my research was a political economy of the international (indeed, world) economy, rather than a critique of political economy.
This explains my relative silence, post 1975, on questions regarding the international economy, with, however, critical extensions towards an ‘international industrial economy’ [1977], the ‘economy of international credit’ [1979,1982], and an ‘international salarisation’ [1982].