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The following are the “official” discussion questions for this course. Students should feel free to offer their own replies to these questions via the “Comments” function below.

Classes 1-2: 10 & 12 February

  1. How would you define the term “international political economy”?
  2. One Cross-Sectional Comparison. Scholars in a variety of fields examine IPE, but they often employ different approaches to and develop different perspective on the same substantive issues. Compare and contrast these differences.
  3. Another Cross-Sectional Comparison. There may also be differences in the ways that the academies of different countries/regions approach and understand IPE. Compare and contrast these differences.
  4. A Cross-Temporal Comparison. Like all fields, the study of IPE has developed over time. In what ways has this field changed for the better? For the worse?

Class 3: 17 February

  1. Several of our authors today suggest that the world economy should be described as existing along a continuum of openness/closure at various points. Do you think this is the most useful dimension to evaluate changes in the global economy? Besides variation in the level of economic openness, what other variables might we want to observe over time?
  2. According to Grieco & Ikenberry (G&I), what is the relationship between states’ political and economic motives? Is one subordinate to the other?
  3. Doug North and others have argued that interstate competition helped, in part, to propel European political and economic development in the Early Modern Period. What made Europe special then? Why hasn’t the rest of the world followed since?
  4. According to the theorists we’ve read, why doesn’t an open global economy result regardless of the distribution of power? Why is it more likely to result under certain distributions of power than others?
  5. How do international institutions serve to influence the level of global economic openness?
  6. What does it mean to say that a theory of political economy is a “structural” theory? What is the structure of interest? What are the alternative perspectives?

Class 4: 19 February

  1. How does Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey understand the relationship between “the 3 I’s”? Can you imagine some alternative frameworks?
  2. According to Irwin, what explains the Repeal of the Corn Laws? What is the relative weight of Peel’s experience versus his engagement with classical liberal economic theory? Do you find this story to be compelling?
  3. How does Rogowski explain trade policy? What is the role of ideas and domestic institutions in his account? (This question has been revised slightly to better clarify the relevant issues – 2 March 09.)
  4. What assumptions does Rogowski make about factor mobility across industries, meaning the ability of owners of one or the other factor to change from one industry to another?
  5. According to North, why do institutions matter?
  6. In developing her framework for understanding the relationship between “the 3 I’s,” Schonhardt-Bailey employs particular understandings of ideas, interests, and institutions. How do these understandings compare to those held by Irwin, Rogowski, and North?

Class 5: 24 February

  1. What would you describe as the defining features of mercantilism? What did the mercantilists think about each of the major areas of IPE: trade, monetary exchange, and migration?
  2. What did Mun think was the measure of wealth? Why might he have thought this?
  3. What did Locke see as the trade-offs between using wheat as a measure of value and using precious metals? What would have been the implications of pegging England’s exchange rate to the value of wheat instead of precious metals?
  4. Why did Locke and Cary stand against adjusting England’s exchange rate vis-a-vis precious metals?
  5. Did the mercantilists’ advocacy of “managing” trade necessarily lead to “protectionist” (meaning high) tariffs?

Class 6: 26 February

  1. How does Adam Smith explain the creation of political society? How does this view compare with the account given by John Locke in the Second Treatise? What do these differing views imply for each theorist’s understanding of the role of government regulation of the economy?
  2. How does Smith characterize the mercantilists’ views–specifically those of Mun & Locke–on the balance of trade? Were these characterizations fair? How would Locke have responded?
  3. Did Smith support exchange rate flexibility? On what grounds did he stake his position?
  4. What, according to Smith, was the “principle of the…mercantile system”? Do you think this was an accurate characterization? How might the mercantilists have responded?

Class 7: Tuesday, 3 March

  1. We’ve seen that John Locke and Adam Smith offered very different accounts of the origin and end of political society. With whom do you think Karl Marx agreed more? Do you think he would have offered any important departures from these accounts?
  2. What were the major features of Marx’s “historical materialism”? What does this viewpoint suggest about the power of ideas?
  3. In what ways was Lenin’s communism different from that proposed by Marx?
  4. What are the similarities and differences between Wallerstein’s “world-system theory” and the brands of communism developed by Marx and Lenin?
  5. Which brand of communism do you think is the most strongly supported by past and current events (i.e. the view of Marx, of Lenin, or of Wallerstein)?

Class 8: Thursday, 5 March

  1. What does Keynes suggest is the relationship between changes in the price level and unemployment? How do his views of that relationship compare to the relationship (supposedly) identified by AWH Phillips between inflation and unemployment?
  2. Did Keynes think that domestic price stability and fixed exchange rates were compatible? If not, which would he have prioritized?
  3. In the Tract on Monetary Reform, Keynes warns of “unemployment.”  Do you think he was concerned with “structural” or “transitional” unemployment? Do you think he recognized a difference?
  4. What did Keynes describe as the essential elements of the “mercantilist” system of political economy? Do you think he was fair and accurate, based on what you’ve read of the mercantilists?
  5. What role do you think returning to the mercantilists played in helping Keynes develop his “general theory”? Were these allusions and citations mere rhetoric and framing? Or did John Locke teach Keynes something? Do you think Keynes meant what he wrote at the end of the General Theory about the power of ideas?

Class 9: Tuesday, 10 March

  1. How does Alt & Gilligan’s model compare to the model used by Rogowski (which you read several weeks ago)?
  2. How do Grieco & Ikenberry explain protectionism? What are the different mechanisms used by states to protect their economies? How do Coughlin, Chrystal, and Wood explain protectionism? Do their explanations include all those justifications that we have seen thus far?
  3. How have economists responded to these arguments for protectionism?

Class 10: Thursday, 12 March

  1. How does Eichengreen explain the Smoot-Hawley tariff? How does his explanation differ from the other explanations that he describes?
  2. What was the RTAA? How did it work? What influence do you think it might have had on subsequent developments in intenrational trade?
  3. How do Bailey, Goldstein, & Weingast explain the RTAA? What is the role of ideas, interests, and (domestic) institutions in their account?
  4. How does Hiscox explain the RTAA? What is the role of ideas, interests, and (domestic) institutions in his account? How does his account differ from that offered by Bailey, Goldstein, & Weingast?

Class 11: Tuesday, 17 March

  1. Why did the trade regime that followed WWII look so different from the trade regime that followed WWI? What were the roles played by ideas, interests, and institutions in facilitating this change?
  2. What do Barton, et al, mean when they suggest that “The irony of the trading system is that many of the features that explain the early success of the [GATT] regime later turned out to be its Achilles heel,
    creating demand for institutional change.” (2)?
  3. What do Barton, et al, suggest have been the most significant changes in the movement from the GATT to the WTO?

Class 12: Thursday, 19 March

  1. Would the British imperial preference system of the 1930s be permissible today as an Article XXIV exception? If not, why not? If so, what would be the implications of that for the durability of the multilateral order?
  2. Do preferential/regional trade agreements pose a threat to the multilateral order? If not, why not? If so, should one type of order be encouraged at the expense of the other? If so, how?
  3. What is driving this increase in preferential/regional trade agreements?

Class 13: Tuesday, 31 March

  1. What is an exchange rate? What is an exchange rate regime? What is a fixed versus a flexible exchange rate?
  2. What is the difference between the de jure and the de facto exchange rate regimes? Why is this difference significant? Why does it exist? Which regime do you think matters more?
  3. What is the “unholy trinity”? Are capital controls and flexible exchange exchange rates the only means by which states can secure monetary policy autonomy?
  4. What is the role of domestic politics in shaping exchange rate regime preferences? To what extent does the maintenance of a system of fixed exchange rate regimes depend on international cooperation and coordination?

Class 14: Thursday, 2 April

  1. What is the price-specie-flow mechanism developed by Hume? How does it relate to the gold standard? What is the role of transportation and conversion costs in Hume’s model?
  2. Is the price-specie-flow model still useful for understanding fiat currencies with fixed exchange rates? If so, how must it be adapted to apply? If not what is different?
  3. According to Eichengreen & Flandreau, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the gold standard? What are the reasons a state might choose to adopt it?
  4. Was there one “gold standard” system? What were the major differences? What allowed these differences to persist?

Class 15: Tuesday, 7 April

  1. According to Kindleberger, what is the role of the distribution of power in the maintenance of the international monetary system? How does Kindleberger’s view of the gold standard compare to the views of Lawrence Broz and Jeff Frieden?
  2. What were the major features of the postwar monetary system?
  3. According to Ikenberry, how do we explain the creation of the Bretton Woods System? How does this explanation compare to the type of explanation given by Charles Kindleberger?
  4. Why do you think Nixon “closed the gold window”? What was the significance of this decision?

Class 16: Thursday, 9 April

  1. According to Cohen, what are the variables that determine states’ decisions about their relationships to the international monetary system? Which do you think matter most?
  2. How does McNamara explain the European states’ movement towards monetary union?
  3. Why do you think the Euro states sacrificed the benefits of national currencies to adopt the Euro? Why didn’t they just all fix their currencies to a common peg and eliminate capital controls? Why did they go the extra step of adopting a single currency?
  4. Combining Cohen & McNamara, do you think we will see more currency unions in the future? Will we have more currencies or fewer?

Class 17: Tuesday, 14 April

  1. According to Scheve & Slaughter, which groups are most likely to resist immigration into the United States? Why do they resist immigration?
  2. Would Scheve & Slaughter expect their findings to differ cross-regionally, say if they surveyed residents of California and Vermont?
  3. What does it mean to say that “trade and immigration” are “substitutes”? If a state were to liberalize one dimension but not the other, would the economic effects (meaning, the return on each factor) be the same as if the state had done the opposite?
  4. How about the social and political implications: does the dimension of liberalization (trade or immigration) matter when we consider the effects of this liberalization on society and politics?

Class 18: Thursday, 16 April

  1. Of the 3 I’s, which did the authors on Tuesday emphasize the most? Which does Huntington emphasize?
  2. How do O’Rourke and Williamson explain migration policy? What does their analysis reveal about the relationship between and relative strength of the 3 I’s?

Class 19: Thursday, 21 April

  1. According to Friedman, do fixed or flexible ERs better foster open trade? On what grounds does he base this judgment?
  2. Does Fleming suggest that Smith’s treatment of the mercantilists was accurate and fair? What role, if any, did Fleming think the “balance-of-payments reason” for managing trade played in mercantilists’ policy prescriptions?
  3. What do you think Irwin makes of the “balance-of-payments reason” elucidated by Fleming?

Class 20: Thursday, 23 April

  1. Is it fair to consider remittances as a form of foreign aid? In so far as foreign aid and open migration policy + open capital markets (which allow for remittances) are substitutes, which ought the US prioritize?
  2. According to Strange, why do some states feel compelled to compete for FDI? How does Fieldhouse’s view differ from that offered by Strange?
  3. According to Caves, why might some firms choose to integrate across national borders?
  4. [Also be sure to carefully consider the comments made by the panelists at Wednesday’s talk.]

Class 21: Tuesday, 28 April

  1. Hoping to emphasize the importance of tackling climate change, Al Gore queried rhetorically: “Is it possible that we should prepare against other threats besides terrorists?” Where do you think tackling climate change ought to stack up in US priorities? How should this compare to protecting human rights, preventing nuclear holocaust, and resolving the current economic crisis?
  2. Throughout the film, Al Gore issued one argument after another against “the so-called ‘skeptics.'” His assumption seems to have been that convincing climate change is real is the major challenge to resolving the challenge. He went so far as to suggest that this is “not a political issue so much as a moral issue.” How would you respond to the following: “The real problem is not getting people to recognize that humans affect the environment. The obstructions are neither scientific nor moral. The real problem is thoroughly political: how ought we distribute the burden of reducing emissions?”
  3. Why does Schelling disapprove of the Kyoto Protocol?

Class 22: Thursday, 30 April

  1. How does globalization today compare to the globalization of the past? How do we explain this variation? What are the implications of this variation?
  2. According to Rodrik and Stiglitz, why is it unfair and unreasonable to expect developing countries to liberalize freely?
  3. What are the bases for the criticism Kapstein describes? Which of the theories of economic justice that he describes do you find most compelling?

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