Dr Isabella Maria Weber

Staff details

Position Lecturer in Economics
Email i.weber (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7296 4218
Dr Isabella Maria Weber

I’m a lecturer in economics at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the principal investigator of the ESRC-funded research project “What drives specialisation? A century of global export patterns”. I gained my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge and was recently a visiting researcher at Tsinghua University (Beijing). I hold an M.Phil. and M.A. in Economics from the New School for Social Research (New York), a B.A. in Politics and Economics from Free University Berlin and studied Chinese at Peking University. My research has been awarded the 2018 Warren Samuels Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in History of Economic Thought and Methodology and the International Convention of Asia Scholars’ Ground-breaking Subject Matter Accolade. My work combines economic theory, economic history, China studies and global political economy. I focus on the interaction between economic thinking, policy and long-term structural patterns in periods of deep social transformation.

At IMS I convene the modules Economic History and Development Economics and contribute to the modules History of Economic Thought and Introductory Economics. I also teach a module of the MAS in Applied Economic History at the University of Zürich on China’s History of Economic Thought. I am a member of the Experts’ Committee of the Universities' China Committee in London (UCCL).

Recent Publications and Working Papers 

Weber, I.M. (2018): “China and Neoliberalism: Moving Beyond the China Is/Is Not Neoliberal Dichotomy,” Cooper, M., D. Cahill, and M. Konings (Eds.), SAGE Handbook of Neoliberalism, London: Sage Publications.

Listen here to a talk on this paper at the University of Cambridge.

Shaikh, A. & I.M. Weber (2018): “The U.S.-China Trade Balance and the Theory of Free Trade: Debunking the Currency Manipulation Argument,” Working Paper 05/2018, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.

Velupillai, V.K. & I.M. Weber (2016): “Reflections on B P Adarkar’s ‘Years of High Theory’ (1934-1941)”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 51, Issue No. 14, April 2.

Weber, I.M. (2016): “On the Necessity of Money in Smith’s Commercial Society and Marx’s Commodity Producing Economy,” Working Paper 27/2015, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics. 

See here for abstracts, pre-prints and working papers. 

Media and public engagement

I have repeatedly served as China expert for BBC news and as adviser to members of the German parliament on China issues.

For a recent interview on the making of China’s economic reforms in English and Italian language published in the IPPR Progressive Review, Volume 26, Issue 1 see here.

Research Interests

My research is in three areas: 

First, I research the intellectual underpinnings of China’s innovative price reforms. My first book “Reassessing China’s Reform Debates, 1978-88: Market Creation and Price Regulation” (forthcoming) sheds new light on the 1980s crossroads. It shows how China escaped a ‘Bing Bang’ in price liberalisation and instead combined bureaucratic experimentation with systematic inductive research to device a new kind of state-market relations. Under a grant program of the China National Social Science Fund jointly with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics we pioneer the research on China’s recent history of economics. My latest research project confronts the theory of price-induced technical change with the very rapid decline in energy intensity in China post-1978 in spite of low energy prices. 

Second, I study the persistence of trade-imbalances and the long-term composition of bilateral trade flows. In Shaikh and Weber (2018) we debunk the currency manipulation argument and propose an alternative explanation of US-China trade imbalance. Ongoing research investigates the path dependency in the make-up of trade baskets between developing and developed countries since the early 20th century. 

Third, I work on theories of money and the market economy. Velupillai and Weber (2016) uncover J.B. Adakar’s forgotten treasures in theorising monetary policy in Keynes’ tradition. Weber (2016) shows that in Smith’s and Marx’ frameworks money is a necessity for an economy coordinated through market exchange. Weber (2018) theorises the relationship between neoliberalism and China’s attempts to create a socialist market economy. An ongoing research project challenges the Eurocentric genealogy of laissez faire as a theoretical and policy paradigm and uncovers its deep roots in Chinese philosophy and bureaucratic practice.

 I have been awarded grants and scholarships from the Cambridge Trust, the Cambridge Political Economy Trust, the Universities China Committee in London, Tsinghua University, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, The New School for Social Research, the Suzy Paine Fund, the European Recovery Programme (ERP) of the German Fenderal Ministry of Economic Affairs, the German National Academy (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes), the German National Protestant Scholarship Programme (Evangelishes Studienwerk Villigst), the China Scholarship Programme of the German and Chinese Ministries of Education and others.



Weber, Isabella Maria and Semieniuk, Gregor. 2019. American Radical Economists in Mao’s China: From Hopes to Disillusionment. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 37A, pp. 31-63. ISSN 0743-4154

Weber, Isabella Maria. 2019. On the Necessity of Money in a Commodity Economy: The Cases of Smith and Marx. Cambridge Journal of Economics, ISSN 0309-166X

Weber, Isabella Maria. 2018. China and Neoliberalism: Moving Beyond the China is/is not Neoliberal Dichotomy. The SAGE Handbook of Neoliberalism, pp. 219-233.

Velupillai, Kumaraswamy and Weber, Isabella Maria. 2016. Reflections on B P Adarkar's 'Years of High Theory' (1934-1941). Economic and Political Weekly, 51(14), pp. 62-69. ISSN 0012-9976


Weber, Isabella Maria. 2019. Reassessing China's Reform Debate (1978-1988): Market Creation and Price Regulation. Oxon, New York: Routledge.


Weber, Isabella Maria and Semieniuk, Gregor. 2018. American Radical Economists in Mao’s China: From Hopes to Disillusionment. Working Paper. SOAS Department of Economics Working Paper Series, London.