Garip, Filiz. 2008. Social Capital and Migration: How Do Similar Resources Lead to Divergent Outcomes?.Abstract
This article investigates how migrant social capital differentially influences individuals’ migration and cumulatively generates divergent outcomes for communities. To combine the fragmented findings in the literature, the article proposes a framework that decomposes migrant social capital into resources (information about or assistance with migration), sources (prior migrants), and recipients (potential migrants). Analysis of multilevel and longitudinal data from 22 rural villages in Thailand shows that the probability of internal migration increases with the available resources, yet the magnitude of increase depends on recipients’ characteristics and the strength of their ties to sources. Specifically, individuals become more likely to migrate if migrant social capital resources are greater and more accessible. The diversity of resources by occupation increases the likelihood of migration, while diversity by destination inhibits it. Resources from weakly tied sources, such as village members, have a higher effect on migration than resources from strongly tied sources in the household. Finally, the importance of resources for migration declines with recipients’ own migration experience. These findings challenge the mainstream account of migrant social capital as a uniform resource that generates similar migration outcomes for different groups of individuals or in different settings. In Nang Rong villages, depending on the configuration of resources, sources, and recipients, migrant social capital leads to differential migration outcomes for individuals and divergent cumulative migration patterns in communities.
Domínguez, Jorge I, and Michael Shifter. 2008. Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America, Third Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This latest edition of this acclaimed text examines four themes vital to building market-oriented democracies in Latin America: the development of democratic institutions, globalization's impact, socio-political integration, and market reforms. Within these broad themes, the contributors explore how issues such as the performance of political parties, civilian control of the military, human rights protections, and executive-legislative relations are playing out in eight countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. They find a mixed record on many fronts and discuss the uncertain state of democracy in several Latin American states in light of recent institutional setbacks and attempts to overhaul the political sphere. Edited by Jorge I. Domínguez and Michael Shifter and featuring contributions from more than a dozen leading scholars of democratization studies, this volume provides a concise and up-to-date measure of the quality of democracy in Latin America.
Beckfield, Jason. 2008. The Dual World Polity: Fragmentation and Integration in the Network of Intergovernmental Organizations.Abstract
A growing body of research demonstrates powerful effects of international organizations on national policy, and the literature on international conflict is increasingly adopting a network perspective on international organizations, but we still know little about the network structure of the world polity itself. This is surprising in light of the theoretical implications of world polity theory, world systems theory, and the world civilizations approach to the structure of the world polity. Using data on a set of prominent intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), along with a comparison to the complete population of IGOs, this study examines the world polity as a network structured by symbolic and material conflict. Network analysis reveals a contradictory duality in the structure of the world polity: while states are densely interconnected through international organizations, these international organizations are only sparsely interconnected. Contrary to world polity theory, world system position and world civilization predict position in the world polity. These results show that, in neglecting the network structure of the world polity, previous research has underestimated the extent of structural inequality in the world polity. Because embeddedness in the world polity has such powerful effects on state policies, international trade, and international conflict, the centralization and fragmentation of the world polity may have disintegrative implications for world politics.
Colton, Timothy J. 2008. Yeltsin: A Life. Basic Books. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Even after his death in April 2007, Boris Yeltsin remains the most controversial figure in recent Russian history. Although Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the decline of the Communist party and the withdrawal of Soviet control over eastern Europe, it was Yeltsin-Russia’s first elected president-who buried the Soviet Union itself. Upon taking office, Yeltsin quickly embarked on a sweeping makeover of newly democratic Russia, beginning with a program of excruciatingly painful market reforms that earned him wide acclaim in the West and deep recrimination from many Russian citizens. In this, the first biography of Yeltsin’s entire life, Soviet scholar Timothy Colton traces Yeltsin’s development from a peasant boy in the Urals to a Communist party apparatchik, and then ultimately to a nemesis of the Soviet order. Based on unprecedented interviews with Yeltsin himself as well as scores of other Soviet officials, journalists, and businessmen, Colton explains how and why Yeltsin broke with single-party rule and launched his drive to replace it with democracy. Yeltsin’s colossal attempt to bring democracy to Russia remains one of the great, unfinished stories of our time. As anti-Western policies and rhetoric resurface in Putin’s increasingly bellicose Russia, Yeltsin offers essential insights into the past, present, and future of this vast and troubled nation.
Gans-Morse, Jordan, Sebastián Mazzuca, and Simeon Nichter. 2008. Who Gets Bought? Vote Buying, Turnout Buying, and Other Strategies.Abstract
During elections in many countries, political parties distribute particularistic benefits to individuals. The existing literature reveals that parties choose from at least five distinct strategies when distributing benefits, but fails to explain how parties allocate resources across these strategies. Our formal model provides insight into this key question. Most studies focus exclusively on "vote buying," a strategy by which parties reward voters for switching their votes. Our model first shows how parties trade off between "vote buying" and "turnout buying," a strategy by which parties reward supporters for showing up at the polls (Nichter 2008). We then show how parties combine these and other commonly observed strategies.
for Affairs, Weatherhead Center International. 2008. Former fellow establishes program at Weatherhead.Abstract
The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs has established a new Program on Transatlantic Relations, thanks to a donation by Pierre Keller of Geneva. Keller was a fellow in 1979–80 at the then–Center for International Affairs, as part of a program that welcomes senior-level diplomats, politicians, military officers, and private-sector professionals to the University for a year of scholarly activity and reflection. Keller’s donation consists of an endowment for a visiting professorship to be taken up by a scholar or public servant who has distinguished him or herself through academic research, teaching, or public service in the field of trans-Atlantic relations. Incumbents of the professorship will use their appointments to carry out research with special emphasis on issues relevant to the political future of U.S.-European affairs and to teach a course in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Keller has also committed operational funds for five years to establish and help sustain the program. Another donation, by the Janssen family of Brussels, will complement Keller’s commitment by supporting both an annual Paul Henri Spaak Lecture by a prominent European and the presence of occasional speakers for the Weatherhead Center’s Seminar on Transatlantic Relations, as well as for speakers from the European Union in joint activities with the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and HKS. “At a time when attention shifts more and more to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, as well toward global issues,” said Beth A. Simmons, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs and director of the Weatherhead Center, “the generous gifts of Pierre Keller and the Janssen family enable us to strengthen research and teaching on trans-Atlantic and European affairs in cooperation with important sister institutions at Harvard.” The Weatherhead Center has appointed Karl Kaiser, a Ralph I. Straus Fellow at the center and an adjunct professor of public policy at HKS, as the program’s founding director. An advisory committee chaired by Buttenwieser University Professor Stanley Hoffmann is also comprised of the Weatherhead Center’s Steven Bloomfield, Richard Cooper, Karl Kaiser, and Beth Simmons; the Kennedy School’s Ashton Carter and Joseph Nye Jr.; and the Center for European Studies’ Patricia Craig, Peter Hall, and Charles Maier. It thus reflects the highly cooperative scope of this effort. The first Pierre Keller Visiting Professor is likely to be appointed for spring 2009.
Grewal, David Singh. 2008. Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization. Yale University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
For all the attention globalization has received in recent years, little consensus has emerged concerning how best to understand it. For some, it is the happy product of free and rational choices; for others, it is the unfortunate outcome of impersonal forces beyond our control. It is in turn celebrated for the opportunities it affords and criticized for the inequalities in wealth and power it generates.David Singh Grewal’s remarkable and ambitious book draws on several centuries of political and social thought to show how globalization is best understood in terms of a power inherent in social relations, which he calls network power. Using this framework, he demonstrates how our standards of social coordination both gain in value the more they are used and undermine the viability of alternative forms of cooperation. A wide range of examples are discussed, from the spread of English and the gold standard to the success of Microsoft and the operation of the World Trade Organization, to illustrate how global standards arise and falter. The idea of network power supplies a coherent set of terms and concepts—applicable to individuals, businesses, and countries alike—through which we can describe the processes of globalization as both free and forced. The result is a sophisticated and novel account of how globalization, and politics, work.
David Singh Grewal holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Government, Harvard University and former fellow (2006-07) of the Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics.
Hochschild, Jennifer L. 2008. Clarence N. Stone and the Study of Urban Politics.Abstract
Among political scientists, the study of urban politics, whether within one nation or cross nationally, resembles the comparative study of national politics—with one crucial exception. In both the urban field and the comparative field, scholars typically come to know one or several localities very well... Clarence Stone is in the latter camp, with disturbingly few peers in political science scholarship on urban politics. He is deeply knowledgeable about Atlanta, Georgia, having studied its political development for decades. He is familiar with a dozen other American cities, having studied their educational reform efforts for years.With coauthors or independently, he has developed broad theoretical frameworks—regime analysis, the “power to” approach, the systemic bias of power and inequality, the centrality of agenda setting and coordination, the urgent need for democratic decision making—that explain actions and outcomes not only in his cities but in many others as well. All of this work is undergirded by a few simple, clear principles about human nature and the conduct of social science that are easy to state and surprisingly fecund.
Reich, Michael R, Stefano Villa, and Amelia Compagni. 2008. Orphan Drug Legislation: Lessons for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Wiley InterScience. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the last 20 years, orphan drug legislation (ODL) has been adopted in several countries around the world (USA, Japan, Australia, and the European Union) and has successfully promoted R&D investments to develop new pharmaceutical products for the treatment of rare diseases. Without these incentives, many life-saving new drugs would have not been developed and produced.For economic reasons, the development of medicines for the treatment of diseases prevalent in the developing world (or tropical diseases) is lagging behind. Among several factors, the low average per-capita income makes pharmaceutical markets in developing countries appear relatively unprofitable and therefore unattractive for R&D-oriented companies.The case of ODL may offer some useful insights and perspectives for the fight against neglected tropical diseases. First, the measures used in ODL may also be effective in boosting R&D for neglected tropical diseases, if appropriately adapted to this market. Second, small-sized companies, which have played a successful role in the development of orphan drugs for rare diseases, may also represent a good business strategy for the case of tropical diseases.
Paarlberg, Robert L. 2008. It's not the price that causes hunger. Publisher's VersionAbstract
International prices of rice, wheat and corn have risen sharply, setting off violent urban protests in roughly a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. But is this a "world food crisis?"It is certainly a troubling instance of price instability in international commodity markets, leading to social unrest among urban food-buyers. But we must be careful not to equate high crop prices with hunger around the world. Most of the world's hungry people do not use international food markets, and most of those who use these markets are not hungry. International food markets, like international markets for everything else, are used primarily by the prosperous and secure, not the poor and vulnerable. In world corn markets, the biggest importer by far is Japan. Next comes the European Union. Next comes South Korea. Citizens in these countries are not underfed.In the poor countries of Asia, rice is the most important staple, yet most Asian countries import very little rice. As recently as March, India was keeping imported rice out of the country by imposing a 70 percent duty.Data on the actual incidence of malnutrition reveal that the regions of the world where people are most hungry, in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, are those that depend least on imports from the world market. Hunger is caused in these countries not by high international food prices, but by local conditions, especially rural poverty linked to low productivity in farming.When international prices are go up, the disposable income of some import-dependent urban dwellers is squeezed. But most of the actual hunger takes place in the villages and in the countryside, and it persists even when international prices are low.When hunger is measured as a balanced index of calorie deficiency, prevalence of underweight children and mortality rates for children under five, we find that South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 had hunger levels two times as high as in the developing countries of East Asia, four times as high as in Latin America, North Africa or the Middle East, and five times as high as in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The poor in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are hungry even though their connections to high-priced international food markets are quite weak.In the poorest developing countries of Asia, where nearly 400 million people are hungry, international grain prices are hardly a factor, since imports supply only 4 percent of total consumption—even when world prices are low. Similarly in sub-Saharan Africa, only about 16 percent of grain supplies have recently been imported, going mostly into the more prosperous cities rather than the impoverished countryside, with part arriving in the form of donated food aid rather than commercial purchases at world prices. The region in Africa that depends on world markets most heavily is North Africa, where 50 percent of grain supplies are imported. Yet food consumption in North Africa is so high (average per capita energy consumption there is about 3,000 calories per day, comparable to most rich countries) that increased import prices may cause economic stress for urban consumers (and perhaps even street demonstrations) but little real hunger.Import dependence is also high in Latin America (50 percent for some countries) but again high world prices will not mean large numbers of hungry people, because per capita GDP in this region is five times higher than in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a severe food crisis among the poor in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but it does not come from high world prices. Even in 2005 in sub-Saharan Africa, a year of low international crop prices, 23 out of 37 countries in the region consumed less than their nutritional requirements.Africa's food crisis grows primarily out of the low productivity, year in and year out, of the 60 percent of all Africans who plant crops and graze animals for a living. The average African smallholder farmer is a woman who has no improved seeds, no nitrogen fertilizers, no irrigation and no veterinary medicine for her animals. Her crop yields are only one third as high as in the developing countries of Asia, and her average income is only $1 a day.One third of these poor African farmers are malnourished. In part because of the added burden of climate change, the number of undernourished people in Africa is now expected to triple by 2080, whatever the level of prices on the world market.The long-term solution to such problems is not lower international prices or more food aid, but larger investments in the productivity of farmers in Africa.African governments essentially stopped making these investments 25 years ago, when the international donor community pulled back from supporting agricultural modernization in the developing world.Over the past two decades the U.S. Agency for International Development has cut its support for agricultural science in Africa by 75 percent.World Bank lending for agriculture has dropped from 30 percent of bank lending in 1978 to just 8 percent. In 2005, the World Bank president at the time, Paul Wolfowitz, told a business forum: "My institution has largely gotten out of the business of agriculture."This may be changing, and if high world food prices help speed the change, so much the better.In a recent interview, the new World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, said he planned to raise agricultural lending to Africa next year from $450 million to $800 million. Since 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also begun to focus more of its grant-making on the needs of poor smallholder farmers in Africa through an Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) chaired by Kofi Annan.These are encouraging initiatives, because the productivity of farms in Africa—not food prices on the world market—should be the long-term focus. Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College, is the author of Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept out of Africa.
Reich, Michael R, Veronika J Wirtz, René Leyva Flores, and Anahí Dreser. 2008. Medicines in Mexico, 1990-2004: Systematic Review of Research on Access and Use, Salud Pública de México. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Objective. To review original research studies published between 1990 and 2004 on the access and use of medicines in Mexico to assess the knowledge base for reforming Mexico’s pharmaceutical policy. Material and Methods. A literature review using electronic databases was conducted of original studies published in the last 15 years about access and use of medicines in Mexico. In addition, a manual search of six relevant journals was performed. Excluded were publications on herbal, complementary and alternative medicines. Results.Were identified 108 original articles as being relevant, out of 2 289 titles reviewed, highlighting four policy-related problems: irrational prescribing, harmful self-medication, inequitable access, and frequent drug stock shortage in public health centers. Conclusions. This review identified two priorities for Mexico’s pharmaceutical policy and strategies: tackling the irrational use of medicines and the inadequate access of medicines. These are critical priorities for a new national pharmaceutical policy.
Martin, Lenore G. 2008. Turkey's Constitutional Crisis—From Lose-Lose to Win-Win. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The March 31, 2008 decision of Turkey’s Constitutional Court to hear a case that could bring down the governing Justice and Development Party (also known in Turkey as AKP) has provoked a constitutional crisis. The Court must decide if their allegedly anti-secular activities warrant shutting down the AKP and/or banning Prime Minister Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and sixty-nine members of the party from politics for five years. The Court has banned other parties and politicians from politics in the past, including the previous two Islamist parties. This case, however, represents an increased threat to the democratic process and a thwarting of the popular will. The moderate Islamist AKP received 47 percent of the popular vote in the elections of July 2007, giving it a parliamentary majority and entitling it to run the government. Shutting down the party and banning its leaders from politics could set off political and economic turmoil in Turkey. Anticipated reactions range from potentially violent popular protests that could invite intervention by the Turkish military to a set back for Turkey’s economic recovery and further cause for the Europeans to block Turkey’s accession to the European Union. The Court is also considering a ban on the Kurdish political party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP). If both the DTP and AKP (which garnered a large number of Kurdish votes) are kept out of politics, this could increase support amongst Turkey’s Kurds for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey desperately needs to address the Kurdish issue in its southeast and the PKK terrorism emanating from northern Iraq. This constitutional crisis diverts the governmental efforts needed to address those issues. Political chaos in Turkey could also upset U.S. foreign policy objectives in Iraq and the greater Middle East. The administration has only recently begun to repair the relations with the republic that were ruptured over the Iraq war. Washington has shared intelligence over PKK havens in northern Iraq and permitted limited military intervention to root them out. The United States needs a stable Turkey that can cooperate with respect to the war in Iraq, Iranian nuclear proliferation and other issues affecting Gulf security. This crisis has its roots in the very foundation of the Turkish Republic. Its founding father, Kemal Ataturk, promoted the principle of secularization in order to further the goal of modernizing the new Turkish state. The Turkish military considers itself the guardian of this Kemalist concept of a secular state. It has not hesitated to take action against what it views as the increasing Islamization of Turkish politics under the majority rule of the AKP. The AKP first achieved majority rule in 2002. Even though it won only 34 percent of the popular vote, AKP gained a parliamentary majority because of the peculiarities of the Turkish electoral system. Among those who voted for the Justice and Development Party were people who were not necessarily Islamist but were seeking an alternative to the allegedly more corrupt, ineffective and splintered secular political parties. The AKP subsequently sought to consolidate its position of power by electing then Foreign Minister Gul as President of Turkey. The Turkish military opposed this move and attempted an “electronic coup” by issuing an online statement warning against Gul’s election. This backfired. In a showdown with the military, Prime Minister Erdogan won the elections in July 2007 and secured Gul’s election as President of the Republic. What spurred the public prosecutor to bring the case to the court was his belief that the AKP was using its parliamentary majority to aggressively promote an Islamist agenda. The AKP-led parliament has passed legislation allowing women to wear headscarves in universities. It has also unsuccessfully attempted to allow students who attend secondary religious schools (Imam Hatip schools) to more easily enter the general university system. Other actions by AKP-dominated municipalities include the banning of alcohol and the separation of men and women in parks and at festivities. The prosecutor is concerned that the AKP will be able to amend the constitution to allow the accelerated Islamization of Turkish politics. Ironically, by bringing the case, the prosecutor put the Constitutional Court in an untenable position. The Court has the power to impose the harsh remedy of shutting the AKP and its politicians out of the political process. It could also impose a lesser remedy of limiting state funding for the party. If it orders the ban, the Court will be viewed as interfering with the will of the people and the deepening of Turkish democracy. If it orders a lesser remedy, it will be viewed as approving the AKP’s actions. Whatever the Court’s ruling, AKP politicians may gain even greater popular support as happened when the military challenged it in 2007. The immediate solution to this lose-lose situation is for the Court to fashion a compromise remedy that will restrain what the prosecutor believes is the AKP’s aggressive pursuit of an Islamization agenda, while at the same time permitting it to participate in the Turkish political arena. The real answer to Turkey’s crisis is to be found in its political system. A compromise judicial outcome would enable a longer-term win-win solution. The constitutional crisis should sound a wake-up call to the opposition political parties in Turkey; they need to reform themselves and Turkey’s political system. Party leaders are autocrats who make all financial decisions and choose the candidates who run for office. The main opposition party, the Republican Peoples Party, in particular, needs to reform its leadership if it seeks to regain its credibility in the Turkish polity. Turkey’s opposition parties need to overcome their divisive politics and structure a coalition that has both the platform and the grassroots organization that can challenge what many see as the Islamization of Turkish politics, by democratic contest in the political arena and not by judicial or military intervention.
Marks, Stephen. 2008. Implementing the Right to Development: The Role of International Law. Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This collection of papers deals with the legal issues involved in considering an international convention on the right to development. It is the outcome of a meeting jointly convened by the Program on Human Rights in Development of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Geneva Office in an effort to provide clarity regarding a highly charged issue on the human rights agenda of the international system. The Expert Meeting on legal perspectives involved in implementing the right to development was held at the Chateau de Bossey, Geneva, Switzerland, on January 4–6, 2008, and was attended by 24 experts in their personal capacity. While positions of governments are entrenched and debates in the diplomatic setting of the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council are often acrimonious, none of the contributions to this study is premised on any political preference for or against the elaboration of a convention. The aim of each author was to provide clarity regarding the legal problems to be addressed.
Iversen, Torben, and John D Stephens. 2008. Partisan Politics, the Welfare State, and Three Worlds of Human Capital Formation.Abstract
The authors propose a synthesis of power resources theory and welfare production regime theory to explain differences in human capital formation across advanced democracies. Emphasizing the mutually reinforcing relationships between social insurance, skill formation, and spending on public education, they distinguish three distinct worlds of human capital formation: one characterized by redistribution and heavy investment in public education and industry-specific and occupation-specific vocational skills; one characterized by high social insurance and vocational training in firm-specific and industry-specific skills but less spending on public education; and one characterized by heavy private investment in general skills but modest spending on public education and redistribution. They trace the three worlds to historical differences in the organization of capitalism, electoral institutions, and partisan politics, emphasizing the distinct character of political coalition formation underpinning each of the three models. They also discuss the implications for inequality and labor market stratification across time and space.
Whyte, Martin K. 2008. Popular Attitudes toward Distributive Injustice: Beijing and Warsaw Compared.Abstract
Popular reactions to the transition from centrally planned socialism to a market-based economy are explored through an examination of survey data on distributive justice and injustice attitudes in Beijing, China, in 2000, and in Warsaw, Poland, in 2001. In both capitals objective socioeconomic status characteristics of respondents have weaker and less consistent associations with distributive injustice attitudes than measures of subjective social status and self-reported trends in family standards of living. When objective and subjective respondent background characteristics are controlled for statistically, residents of democratic and enthusiastically capitalist Warsaw have stronger feelings of distributive injustice than respondents in undemocratic and only partially reformed Beijing. However, one exception to this pattern is that Beijing residents favor government redistribution to reduce income differences more than their Warsaw counterparts. Conjectures about the sources of these differences in distributive injustice attitudes are offered.
Kremer, Michael, Asim Khwaja, and David Clingingsmith. 2008. Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering.Abstract
We estimate the impact on pilgrims of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Our method compares successful and unsuccessful applicants in a lottery used by Pakistan to allocate Hajj visas. Pilgrim accounts stress that the Hajj leads to a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims, but outsiders have sometimes feared that this could be accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs such as the use of amulets and dowry. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment. Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions. The evidence suggests that these changes are more a result of exposure to and interaction with Hajjis from around the world, rather than religious instruction or a changed social role of pilgrims upon return.
Bates, Robert H. 2008. When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the later decades of the twentieth century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an exploration of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. A must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.
Bates, Robert H. 2008. When Things Fell Apart . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. WebsiteAbstract
the later decades of the 20th century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an explanation of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. Written to be accessible to the general reader, it is nonetheless a must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.
Rogoff, Kenneth S, and Carmen M Reinhart. 2008. Is the 2007 US Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? An International Historical Comparison, American Economic Review 98, no. 2: 339-344. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The first major financial crisis of the twenty-first century involves esoteric instruments, unaware regulators, and skittish investors. It also follows a well-trodden path laid down by centuries of financial folly. Is the “special” problem of sub-prime mortgages really different? Our examination of the longer historical record, which is part of a larger effort on currency and debt crises, finds stunning qualitative and quantitative parallels across a number of standard financial crisis indicators. To name a few, the run-up in US equity and housing prices that Graciela L. Kaminsky and Reinhart (1999) find to be the best leading indicators of crisis in countries experiencing large capital inflows closely tracks the average of the previous 18 post–World War II banking crises in industrial countries. So, too, does the inverted v-shape of real growth in the years prior to the crisis. Despite widespread concern about the effects on national debt of the tax cuts of the early 2000s, the run-up in US public debt is actually somewhat below the average of other crisis episodes. In contrast, the pattern of US current account deficits is markedly worse. At this juncture, the book is still open on how the current dislocations in the United States will play out. The precedent found in the aftermath of other episodes suggests that the strains can be quite severe, depending especially on the initial degree of trauma to the financial system (and to some extent, the policy response). The average drop in (real per capita) output growth is over 2 percent, and it typically takes two years to return to trend. For the five most catastrophic cases (which include episodes in Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, and Sweden), the drop in annual output growth from peak to trough is over 5 percent, and growth remained well below pre-crisis trend even after three years. These more catastrophic cases, of course, mark the boundary that policymakers particularly want to avoid.
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Feldman, Noah. 2008. The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State. Princeton University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Perhaps no other Western writer has more deeply probed the bitter struggle in the Muslim world between the forces of religion and law and those of violence and lawlessness as Noah Feldman. His scholarship has defined the stakes in the Middle East today. Now, in this incisive book, Feldman tells the story behind the increasingly popular call for the establishment of the shari'a--the law of the traditional Islamic state - in the modern Muslim world. Western powers call it a threat to democracy. Islamist movements are winning elections on it. Terrorists use it to justify their crimes. What, then, is the shari'a? Given the severity of some of its provisions, why is it popular among Muslims? Can the Islamic state succeed - should it? Feldman reveals how the classical Islamic constitution governed through and was legitimated by law. He shows how executive power was balanced by the scholars who interpreted and administered the shari'a, and how this balance of power was finally destroyed by the tragically incomplete reforms of the modern era. The result has been the unchecked executive dominance that now distorts politics in so many Muslim states. Feldman argues that a modern Islamic state could provide political and legal justice to today's Muslims, but only if new institutions emerge that restore this constitutional balance of power. The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State gives us the sweeping history of the traditional Islamic constitution - its noble beginnings, its downfall, and the renewed promise it could hold for Muslims and Westerners alike.