Walsh, Colleen. 2009. “Looking at the world through a comparative lens”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
When Steven Levitsky talks politics, a boyish enthusiasm takes over. It’s hardly surprising. He fell in love with the topic at the age of 5. The New York native’s passion for the workings of governments derived from an uncle, a social worker with a keen political eye who liked to discuss the Middle East with his young nephew. “It’s a passion that I grew up with... and I certainly give my uncle the credit, or the blame,” Levitsky, professor of government at Harvard, said with a laugh. The intensity is palpable when he discusses his 2003 work, “Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective,” the book that developed out of his Ph.D. dissertation. The work examines Peronism—the political movement created by Juan Peron in the 1940s that incorporates social democracy and nationalism—and the radical shifts in its ideology during the past 30 years. Traditionally the voice of the poor and of labor and trade unions in Argentina—and largely hated by the middle classes and wealthier sectors of society—the movement switched from a fairly statist populist party in the 1980s to one responsible for carrying out radical free market reforms in the 1990s, said Levitsky. Recently, it has shifted dramatically again, moving back toward the left. “It’s a party that did a programmatic 180 and I wanted to explain how it did that. Political parties aren’t supposed to go from Reaganism to Ted Kennedy liberalism overnight, and that is basically what the Peronists did.” To understand the shifts, Levitsky spent a year and a half in Argentina meeting and interviewing party members. He found that both the movement’s massive membership (deeply entrenched in the working class) and its loosely structured organization help explain the recent changes. “The rules and procedures that structure party life: how to choose candidates, how to make decisions, how to choose a platform—all of that stuff is constantly up in the air,” he said. But such turbulence, while chaotic, he noted, can be beneficial.“It makes for quite a bit of flexibility. It allows the party, at least under certain circumstances, to adapt much more quickly than more bureaucratic parties.” The young professor, who never took an introductory course on comparative politics (the examination of the similarities and differences of governments) as an undergraduate at Stanford because of its “deadly boring” reputation, is dedicated to teaching the subject in a compelling way. To engage his class, Levitsky examines four topics: revolution, economic development, democracy, and ethnic conflict, all in a contemporary context. Students compare and evaluate different theories in an effort to understand the reasons behind ethnic violence in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, social revolutions in Russia and Iran, and democratic reform in South Africa. His course’s steadily rising enrollment numbers is an indication of the effectiveness of his approach. “Comparative politics,” he said on a recent afternoon in his cluttered office, “is inherently sexy; it’s really exciting.” It was global political turmoil occurring in Levitsky’s formative years that drew him toward Central and Latin America. In high school and early on in college, the drama of the Nicaraguan civil war and events in El Salvador inspired him to get personally involved. His opposition to the United States’ efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and U.S. support for the military-backed government in El Salvador led him to take part in protests, join letter-writing campaigns, and participate in what he calls his greatest contribution: “guerilla theater.” Levitsky and his friends would dress in fatigues, storm the college cafeteria, kidnap a diner who was in on the plan, and hand out leaflets that stated such abductions were a regular occurrence in El Salvador. His interest in the conflict led to a trip to the country in 1989, where he conducted research for his undergraduate thesis; it was a trip that sealed his academic fate.“Just jumping in the middle of things and talking to people was absolutely decisive in my choice to go on and become a scholar. I had no real training in research, but the experience of being there and sticking my nose in the middle of politics was a very powerful one for me.” Levitsky entered graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1992, about a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The “momentous time,” he recalled, pulled him again toward Latin America as the demise of the socialist model of the USSR forced the region’s labor-based and leftist parties to re-evaluate their approach. “The world was really being thrown up in the air. I knew from early on that I wanted to study this question of how labor-based parties, particularly in Latin America, were responding to globalization.” The avid Mets fan who proudly displays a baseball signed by Willie Mays on his desk, met his wife during his graduate school years. After attending one of his talks where he described Peru’s government as an “authoritarian democracy,” Liz, a Peruvian journalist studying at Berkeley for a year, challenged him a week later. “She started ripping into my talk,” he said, “and I immediately fell in love.” Today the couple has a daughter, Alejandra, who seems to be following in her father’s passionate political footsteps. During the primary season, when Levitsky and his wife were split about supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, their then 4-year-old adamantly weighed in one morning at breakfast. “She jumped into the discussion,” said Levitsky, “pounded her fist on the table and said, ‘No! We’re all voting for Obama!’” Back in class, Levitsky said he hopes to impart his own passion for politics, along with a lesson about critical thinking. Surprised by how many first-year undergraduates enter his class wanting to “know the answer,” he tries to teach them “how to think critically, how to compare and evaluate different arguments. “The vast majority of the students that I teach are not going to be political scientists,” he said. “They are going to be citizens, and here at Harvard in many cases, fairly influential and powerful citizens, so it means a lot to me to have a small amount of influence into how these guys think, and hopefully get them a little bit more engaged in politics.”
Kaiser, Karl, and Dominique Moïsi. 2009. “Europe needs a stronger France inside Nato”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The debate on whether to return to Nato’s permanent command structure that has recently been unleashed in France—43 years after Charles de Gaulle pulled his country out—has impassioned its political class much more than the wider public.The opposition has seized the opportunity to attack President Nicolas Sarkozy on an issue where his governing centre-right party happens to be divided. But if one goes beyond the political calculations and ideological reflexes of this debate and considers the long-term strategic implications, what is at stake?In the first place common sense requires that an anachronism be eliminated and that the appropriate lessons be drawn from the fundamental changes happening in today’s world, in the US as well as in Europe. By remaining a member of Nato without taking part in its integrated military structure France has first and foremost penalised itself. Precisely because the future of Nato’s strategy is at stake and legitimate questions must be raised about the choices to be made regarding Afghanistan, France should assume its responsibilities inside Nato and thereby increase Europe’s weight in redefining western strategy. Only from inside will France be able to assert its own interests. But the developments in the international environment make a change of France's status inside Nato seem even more advisable, indeed necessary. The world has changed profoundly; the west is no longer as dominant as it has been for two centuries, either economically or in terms of strategic importance. The economic crisis, though global in nature, is accelerating the historic shift from the west to Asia.Moreover, Europe’s primary problem is no longer to define itself as distinct from, if not at times in opposition to, the US. That is an obsolete mindset. Today’s challenge is to form a common front by asserting our values, not against others but in co-operation with them and in recognition of an emerging multi-polarity. Since the election of Barack Obama as president of the US these changes have been accompanied by a revolution: not only has there been a big change in the image of America in the world but the behaviour of the US vis á vis its allies has changed even more radically. Though it is too early to know whether President Obama will succeed in reinvigorating the US economy, it is not too early to support his measures and efforts to relaunch multilateralism with strong action taken by our two countries.The French population as well as the Germans—we remember the enthusiastic crowds that cheered him in Berlin—strongly support Mr Obama. France should seize the hand extended by America. Its return as a full member of Nato would constitute a strong symbolic and political act, sealing a historic reconciliation of two allies that are willing to put their common challenges above the quarrels and prejudices of the past.Europe itself is changing before our eyes. There is no contradiction between the desire to advance European defence and to "normalise" France’s status inside Nato; on the contrary, France’s position thereby would come closer to that of Britain and Germany. A stronger France inside the alliance would strengthen the European defence effort. The return of France to Nato is not a guarantee of a successful European defence, but it certainly is a necessary precondition. This becomes all the more true considering the new challenges facing Europe such as the return of Russia, now seeking a more powerful role in the international system. We should not allow Russia to exploit potential differences between Europe and Nato. But at the same time we must seek to open a dialogue with Russia on the necessary reopening of arms control negotiations in Europe, hopefully building a new partnership. These negotiations require strong and harmonised positions within Nato.The authors of this article have devoted an important part of their lives to Franco-German rapprochement, which they consider to be a key to European unification. They regard the complete return of France to Nato as a logical step towards the European goal.They are convinced that General de Gaulle, with his pragmatic and realist vision of the world and of a Europe based on the Franco-German relationship, would be shocked to hear that his name is evoked today to oppose an adjustment that he himself would have considered natural, given the profound changes that are happening in the world.
Frieden, Jeffry. 2009. “Avoiding the worst: International economic cooperation and domestic politics”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
If the crisis turns into a new Great Depression, it will most likely be due to a breakdown of cooperation among the major economies. But sustaining international cooperation requires domestic support; ignoring the demands of poor and middle-class citizens for relief will inflame more extreme anti-globalisation views, making international cooperation much more difficult.If the current crisis turns into a disaster on the order of the Great Depression, it will most likely be due to a breakdown of cooperation among the major economies. The history of the modern world economy—and especially of its collapse in the 1930s—makes clear that the principal powers have to work together if they are to maintain an integrated international economic order. International cooperation needs domestic support for opennessYet governments are only able to make the sacrifices necessary to sustain international cooperation if they can rely, in turn, on domestic political support for an open world economy. National publics unconvinced of the value of international integration will not back policies—often costly and difficult policies—to maintain it. This can lead—again, as in the 1930s—to a perverse process in which global economic failure undermines support for economic openness, which leads governments to pursue uncooperative policies, which further weakens the global economy. On both dimensions, international and domestic, we are in trouble. So far, despite high-sounding internationalist rhetoric, governments have responded to the crisis with policies that take little account of their impact on other nations. And the crisis has dramatically reduced domestic public support for globalisation, and for national policies to sustain it.Why reasonable governments do unreasonable thingsOn the international dimension, the threat is not so much of explicit protectionism but rather of nationally specific policies that impose costs on others, directly or indirectly.These beggar-thy-neighbour policies are not normally the result of some inexplicable bloody-mindedness on the part of venal governments, or of purposeful antagonism toward rivals. They are, instead, desperate attempts to defend national economies from gathering storms. But they impose negative externalities on other countries, and in so doing can provoke hostile reactions that can drag all parties concerned into bitter conflict.Not out of arrogant nationalism but out of domestic desperationDomestic constituents demand action, and governments have to respond, even at the expense of international cooperation. This can easily lead down a path toward conflict. Financial intervention to restore liquidity or solvency to the banking system can come at the expense of financial partners, sucking funds out of neighbours.The early-October Irish blanket deposit guarantee, implemented with the perfectly understandable goal of avoiding a bank panic in a small and vulnerable economy, nearly induced a run on British banks as British depositors rushed to transfer funds from British to Irish banks. The current American financial bailout is drawing capital from the rest of the world—including from emerging markets that urgently need it—not out of arrogant nationalism but out of domestic desperation. And the buy-American provisions of the current stimulus package demonstrate the ease with which well-intentioned policies can turn into uncooperative predation. The range of policies of this type—sincere national initiatives with counter-productive international implications—is virtually endless. Negative externalities galoreSupport for troubled national firms can turn into anti-competitive subsidies to national champions. Currency depreciation, a common recommendation for difficult times, can put competitive pressure on trading partners, leading to round after round of "competitive devaluations." Debt-averse governments can limit the size of their fiscal stimulus, thereby free riding on the deficit spending of neighbours. Countries with intolerable foreign debt burdens can seek debt write-downs that further cripple creditor-country financial markets. And all of these can interact to create powerful protectionist pressures. One country’s fiscal stimulus can "leak" into a neighbour, draw in a surge of imports from the neighbour, and provoke a bitter protectionist backlash.Even with the best of intentions, governments can act in ways that drive wedges among countries, block cooperative responses to the crisis, and ultimately make everyone worse off. And despite today’s flowery rhetoric, there is little evidence that national policymakers are willing or able to take into account the international implications of their actions. If this pattern continues, it will be a major obstacle to a rapid recovery.Will anyone speak for the rest of the world? National governments rarely consider global consequences, because their constituents are domestic and national publics are very skeptical about the contemporary world economy.Even before the crisis hit, there had been real erosion in popular support for globalisation. Economic integration has come to be associated with job losses, competitive pressures, and a worsening of income distribution in developed and developing countries alike. Nearly universally, the lower registers of the income distribution are most dubious about the benefits of international economic integration, and these doubts are particularly widespread in more unequal societies.The crisis has heightened suspicion of a world economy that appears to be the source of much of our current predicament. There is increasing resentment that the expansion of the past ten years primarily helped the wealthy, while the poor and middle classes are being asked to sacrifice to deal with the hangover of the binge. This is coupled with similar resentment that governments appear to privilege the concerns of international banks and corporations. There is an advancing popular view that insulation will help reinforce national attempts to deal with the crisis.National publics will increasingly resist making national sacrifices in order to honour international economic obligations. Meanwhile, concentrated interests who support globalisation—such as the international financial and corporate sectors—have been undermined by international economic weakness. Broad popular sentiment is increasingly widespread and powerful that national responses to the crisis must take priority over international obligations. Attention must be paid: Crisis’s impact on income distribution The impact of the crisis on income distribution cannot be ignored, for it will determine much of the politics of government responses to the crisis. Ignoring the demands of poor and middle-class citizens for relief will inflame more extreme anti-globalisation views, making international cooperation that much more difficult.These two dimensions, the international and the domestic, are closely interrelated. The less domestic support there is for globalisation, the harder it will be for national governments to reach cooperative agreements with partners. The less international cooperation there is, the greater the likelihood of a deterioration in the global economy. As in the 1930s, beggar-thy-neighbour policies, distributional conflicts, and international economic stagnation could feed on each other in a downward dance.  Into the maelstrom?Governments have to act consciously to counteract this dismal possibilityAt the domestic level, governments need to work out an equitable and politically sustainable allocation of austerity across the population. This means ensuring that those sectors of society hit hardest by the crisis are not also the ones asked to bear the stiffest sacrifices. Societies with existing social safety nets will have to expand them and make sure they work for wider segments of the population than they were planned. Countries with weak or non-existent social programs for the victims of crises such as this will have to create them, and quickly. By the same token, basic principles of equity—and even more basic political realities—demand that those who received the main benefits of the boom have to bear their share of the costs of the bust. Governments that ignore the social and distributional implications of the crisis are likely to find themselves either driven toward extreme and counter-productive policies, or swept away.Even sustaining existing social programs is extraordinarily difficult in such hard times. This is true of all governments, which face powerful fiscal pressures as tax revenues dry up and demands for spending soar. The difficulties are especially challenging for developing countries, many of which have lost whatever access they may have had to external sources of capital. Yet governments that do not provide effective relief to those hardest hit by the crisis face the prospect of dramatically increased social and political strife, which will only deepen the disaster.At the international level, governments need to work just as consciously to coordinate not just words, but actions. This will not happen of its own accord. So far, the solidarity of OECD central bankers has been impressive. However, this builds upon a long-standing tradition of the solidarity of central bankers, and upon decades of institutionalised collaboration, and can only take us a very short part of the way. There is nothing analogous on other dimensions.The free interplay of government policies will not spontaneously bring forth international cooperationCollaboration among governments has to be intended, designed, and monitored. This almost certainly requires some international institutional framework, some set of agreed-upon rules and ways of enforcing them. The governments of the major economic centers need to consult regularly on the international dimensions of the crisis, and of its resolution. They need to hold each other to account, and they need some reasonably independent mechanism to identify policies that risk driving governments toward conflict rather than mutual assistance. Other foreign policy goals can and should be linked to supportive efforts on the economic front.ConclusionIf governments do not pay real attention to the domestic distributional impact of the emergency, and to the international implications of their national policies, the current calamity will feed on itself. The Great Depression of the 1930s was more a failure of national policy, and of international cooperation, than it was a failure of markets. Success in confronting the current crisis will similarly depend on socially responsive and viable national policies, and on globally responsive and viable international cooperation.Editors' note: This column is a Lead Commentary on Vox's Global Crisis Debate page; see further discussion on Vox’s Global Crisis Debate page.ReferencesFrieden, Jeffry A. 2006. Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century. W.W. Norton.Frieden, Jeffry. 2007. "Will Global Capitalism Fall Again?" Bruegel Essay and Lecture Series (Brussels: Bruegel, 2007).Frieden, Jeffry. 2008. "Global Governance of Global Monetary Relations: Rationale and Feasibility." Economics. Discussion Paper number 2008-32.
Martin, Lenore G. 2009. “A Stimulus Package for Reviving the Peace Process”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The recently enacted stimulus package for reviving the worst U.S. economic recession in decades should serve as a model for reviving the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The peace process has been in its own recession since the failure of the Taba talks in January 2001. The steady expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has deepened that recession. By all accounts, Israeli settlements block the implementation of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. The stimulus package should consist of a multi-billion dollar international fund with a first priority of reversing the growth of Israeli settlements and financing the resettlement of Israelis from the West Bank essentially within the 1967 borders. The next application of the fund will be to house Palestinians in the vacant Israeli settlements. The ultimate goal of the stimulus package will be the creation of an economically viable Palestinian state. This proposal will go a long way to ending the occupation, changing the oppressive conditions the Palestinians are enduring and moving towards peace with an Israeli State and a Palestinian State.Consistent with the Obama Administration's declared objective of engaging in multilateral diplomacy to address troublesome international political issues, the United States should be the lead investor in the fund. Washington should then invite substantial contributions from other parties that have an interest in the peace process, including the Arab League, the European Union, and Russia.The stimulus package should not encourage another Israeli "unilateral" move, as in Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The package should stimulate a negotiating process that will create new "facts on the ground" that are conducive to the resolution of the "final status" issues. Negotiations over the application of the fund will not be easy. For example, with the assistance of the fund managers the Palestinian Authority under Abu Mazen's leadership and representatives of the next Israeli government will need to work out the details of removing Israeli road blocks to enable Palestinian goods and people to move throughout the West Bank. The parties will also need to negotiate maintaining Israel's security including the movement of IDF forces in and through the West Bank while enabling the Palestinians to extend local security into the former settlements where Palestinians should be settling.The Obama Administration has already signaled to Israelis, Palestinians and the international community that it is willing to dedicate U.S. prestige as well as resources to reviving Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. The American "dream team" for this effort includes former Senator George Mitchell, who brings to the negotiating table his reputation as the proponent of the Good Friday Peace Agreement that resolved the intractable ethnic/religious conflict in Northern Ireland. It also includes Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton proposed the "Clinton parameters" which could serve as the forerunner of a potential resolution of the intractable Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Establishing the international stimulus package as soon as possible would be a good way to put the dream team and a tangible demonstration of the U.S. commitment to ending the "recession" in the peace process.No one doubts that there will be potentially violent opposition to the resettlement of Israelis from the West Bank. Extremist factions from Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the one side and religious nationalist settlers on the other will seek to sabotage the stimulus by violent attacks. However, as in the treatment of the "toxic assets" that have contributed to the economic recession, the promoters of the economic stimulus should not let violent extremists poison the political stimulus to reviving peace negotiations.One can also expect vociferous opposition to the stimulus package from Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party. In the campaign for the recent Israeli elections they loudly declared that they want to maintain the settlements and even allow their "natural expansion"- albeit without promoting the construction of new settlements. As a pre-condition to the negotiation of peace with the Palestinians, Netanyahu proposes the rapid development of the Palestinian economy. Glossed over in this proposal are the realities of the myriads of Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank and the numerous road blocks that serve to secure them, all of which impede the flow of people and goods that cripple Palestinian economic development.The United States can overcome such opposition by applying pressure to the next Israeli government, whether it be controlled by Likud or shared with Kadima. As a condition to the stimulus package Washington can insist that Israel should stop settlement construction and start the process of removing settlers from the West Bank. Appointing George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East was an indication to the Israelis of America's seriousness in insisting on this turnaround. Mitchell was the author of the 2001 Mitchell Report for then President Clinton that, among other things, stipulated that Israel should stop building settlements in the Occupied Territories.The speed with which President Obama has acted on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute makes it clear that he recognizes its resolution is in the national interest of the United States in order to restore American influence in the region, firm up U.S. alliances in the Arab world and stabilize the Middle East. An international stimulus package to revive peace negotiations would work towards achieving this goal. Resettling the West Bank settlers would halt the dynamic towards a one state outcome that will frustrate the national dreams of both Palestinians and Israelis. It will deny the extremists on both sides their claims to all of the land, claims that condemn the rest of the population to a never ending cycle of violence. It is good for the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and our friends throughout the region.
Martin, Lenore G. 2009. “Gaza sours Israel-Turkey relations”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Inside Story: Gaza sours Israel-Turkey relationsAftershocks of the war on Gaza signal a possible rift between Israel and Turkey. Last month, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Erdogan angrily accused Israeli president Shimon Peres of "knowing very well how to kill".He also criticised Israeli policies and actions towards the Palestinians, who he said lived in an "open-air prison." In response, Israeli Major General Avi Mizrahi was quoted as saying Turkey was not in a position to criticise Israel when it stations troops in northern Cyprus. He also accused Turkey of repressing its Kurdish minority and massacring Armenians during World War one.Where does the relationship between Israel and Turkey currently stand? Israel and Turkey have a strategic alliance tightened by military, diplomatic and political cooperation and often refer to themselves as the only democracies in the Middle East.They share a number of common interests. Both counties are largely dependent on the United States for security and are against the rise of Islamic radicalism.Turkey has provided considerable support to an isolated Israel in the Middle East. Turkey was the first majority Muslim country to recognise Israel as a state and it has built up more than $3 billion in annual trade with it.Has their relationship reached an unprecedented low and possibly a point of no return? Are there unknown causes behind this swift souring in their relationship? And is their long friendship in danger of collapsing? Inside Story presenter Imran Garda is joined by Umut Arik, a former Turkish ambassador and the secretary general of Turkey's Democratic Party; Ofra Bengio, a senior research fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, and Lenore Martin, a professor of political science at Emmanuel College and author of the book The Future of Turkish Foreign Policy.
Ziblatt, Daniel. 2009. “Shaping Democratic Practice and the Causes of Electoral Fraud: Theory and Evidence from Pre-1914 Germany”.Abstract
Why is there so much alleged electoral fraud in new democracies? Most scholarship focuses on the proximate cause of electoral competition. This article proposes a different answer by constructing and analyzing an original data set drawn from the German parliament’s own voluminous record of election disputes for every parliamentary election in the life of Imperial Germany (1871–1912) after its adoption of universal male suffrage in 1871. The article analyzes the election of over 5,000 parliamentary seats to identify where and why elections were disputed as a result of "election misconduct." The empirical analysis demonstrates that electoral fraud’s incidence is significantly related to a society’s level of inequality in landholding, a major source of wealth, power, and prestige in this period. After weighing the importance of two different causal mechanisms, the article concludes that socioeconomic inequality, by making elections endogenous to preexisting social power, can be a major and underappreciated barrier to the long-term process of democratization even after the “choice” of formally democratic rules.
Lamont, Michèle, and Graziella Moraes Da Silva. 2009. “Complementary Rather than Contradictory: Diversity and Excellence in Peer Review and Admissions in American Higher Education,” 21st Century Society, . 21st Century Society. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Diversity is largely accepted as a positive value in American society. Nevertheless, policies to encourage diversity, e.g. affirmative action, language policies and legalising illegal immigrants, are still largely disputed, and often understood as having contradictory and largely negative consequences. The implementation of diversity is still seen as a threat to meritocracy, national cohesion, and democracy. This paper analyses how excellence and diversity are discussed in two academic decision-making processes: admission at two elite public universities and the distribution of competitive research fellowships. We argue that excellence and diversity are not alternative but additive considerations in the allocation of resources. The administrators and academics we studied factor diversity in as an additional consideration when decisions are to be made between applicants of roughly equal standing.
Jacks, David S, Kevin H O'Rourke, and Jeffery G Williamson. 2009. “Commodity Price Volatility and World Market Integration since 1700”.Abstract
Poor countries are more volatile than rich countries, and we know this volatility impedes their growth. We also know that commodity price volatility is a key source of those shocks. This paper explores commodity and manufactures price over the past three centuries to answer three questions: Has commodity price volatility increased over time? The answer is no: there is little evidence of trend since 1700. Have commodities always shown greater price volatility than manufactures? The answer is yes. Higher commodity price volatility is not the modern product of asymmetric industrial organizations - oligopolistic manufacturing versus competitive commodity markets - that only appeared with the industrial revolution. It was a fact of life deep into the 18th century. Does world market integration breed more or less commodity price volatility? The answer is less. Three centuries of history shows unambiguously that economic isolation caused by war or autarkic policy has been associated with much greater commodity price volatility, while world market integration associated with peace and pro-global policy has been associated with less commodity price volatility. Given specialization and comparative advantage, globalization has been good for growth in poor countries at least by diminishing price volatility. But comparative advantage has never been constant. Globalization increased poor country specialization in commodities when the world went open after the early 19th century; but it did not do so after the 1970s as the Third World shifted to labor-intensive manufactures. Whether price volatility or specialization dominates terms of trade and thus aggregate volatility in poor countries is thus conditional on the century.
Also NBER Working Paper No. 14748.Download PDF
Pamuk, Şevket, and Jeffery G Williamson. 2009. “Ottoman De-Industrialization 1800-1913: Assessing the Shock, Its Impact and the Response”.Abstract
India and Britain were much bigger players in the 18th century world market for textiles than was Egypt, the Levant and the core of the Ottoman Empire, but these eastern Mediterranean regions did export carpets, silks and other textiles to Europe and the East. By the middle of the 19th century, they had lost most of their export market and much of their domestic market to globalization forces and rapid productivity growth in European manufacturing. Other local industries also suffered decline, and these regions underwent de-industrialization as a consequence. How different was Ottoman experience from the rest of the poor periphery? Was de-industrialization more or less pronounced? Was the terms of trade shock bigger or smaller? How much of Ottoman de-industrialization was due to falling world trade barriers—ocean transport revolutions and European liberal trade policy, how much due to factory-based productivity advance in Europe, how much to declining Ottoman competitiveness in manufacturing, how much to Ottoman railroads penetrating the interior, and how much to Ottoman policy? The paper uses a price-dual approach to seek the answers. It documents trends in export and import prices, relative to each other and to non-tradables, as well as to the unskilled wage. The impact of globalization, European productivity advance, Ottoman wage costs and policy are assessed by using a simple neo-Ricardian three sector model, and by comparison with what was taking place in the rest of the poor periphery.
Hatton, Timothy J, and Jeffery G Williamson. 2009. “Vanishing Third World Emigrants?”.Abstract
This paper documents a stylized fact not well appreciated in the literature. The Third World has been undergoing an emigration life cycle since the 1960s, and, except for Africa, emigration rates have been level or even declining since a peak in the late 1980s the early 1990s. The current economic crisis will serve only to accelerate those trends. The paper estimates the economic and demographic fundamentals driving these Third World emigration life cycles to the United States since 1970—the income gap between the US and the sending country, the education gap between the US and the sending country, the poverty trap, the size of the cohort at risk, and migrant stock dynamics. It then projects the life cycle up to 2024. The projections imply that pressure on Third World emigration over the next two decades will not increase. It also suggests that future US immigrants will be blacker and fewer will speak Spanish.
Liviatan, Ofrit. 2009. “Judicial Activism and Religion-Based Tensions in India and Israel,” Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, . Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Contemporary democratic reality is characterized by the growing role of courts in politics, as social activists regularly utilize the judicial process in an attempt to secure their values and interests as law. Observers of constitutional politics generally explain this phenomenon in the recent constitutional transformations worldwide, manifested primarily in the enactment of bills of rights accompanied by judicial review powers. These constitutional transformations enabled and simplified the ability of those with limited access to the majoritarian-led parliamentary process to challenge governmental policies through the courts.1 As a result, law has come to be perceived as a compelling mechanism to effectuate progressive change and facilitate authoritative resolutions to conflicts.2 In societies divided along religious lines, the appeal of litigation has been particularly strong, with secular and religious groups increasingly viewing it as a principal opportunity to mold the public sphere in accordance with their political and moral preferences.This paper seeks to evaluate the efforts to achieve these perceived goals—of effectuating change and managing conflict—through the judicial process, by examining its effects in the context of the religion-based conflicts of India and Israel. By way of an empirical comparison the paper considers: (i) the judicial impact on the realization of fundamental rights, the rectification of existing discriminatory practices, and the advancement toward a more pluralist and egalitarian society; (ii) the judicial contribution to generating authoritative resolution to religion-based conflicts; and (iii) possible long term social and political implications stemming from judicial intervention in policy questions concerning hotly disputed religion-based conflicts. 
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2009. “State of the Union”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The emerging security debate on the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks has neglected a vital constitutional question. Does federalism by any chance weaken India’s counter-terrorism effort? Without considering the relationship between federalism and national security, we will not understand the underlying factors driving India’s counter-terrorism effort. The nation’s centre-state laws and practices are a principal obstacle in developing a stronger response. If not addressed imaginatively, Mumbai-style attacks simply cannot be ruled out. Scholars of comparative federalism generally call India’s linguistic federation a spectacular institutional success. One of the greatest indicators of the success is the disappearance of language riots, common in the 1950s and 1960s, after the linguistic reorganisation of states was completed. But for all its successes, India’s federalism now faces a new and extremely serious challenge. Central to India’s internal security are three laws and practices. First, according to India’s Constitution, internal law and order are entirely on the so-called “state list”, not on the “Central list” or “concurrent list”. Only under President’s rule can Delhi take over the internal security of a state. “Federal crime” is not a concept in Indian law, as is it in the US, and it cannot be introduced unless the Constitution is amended. Its relevance has been debated within government circles since the late 1960s, but the idea of federal crimes remains legally elusive. Even when the Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu was diverted to Kandahar in December 1999, leading to India’s external affairs minister agreeing to a humiliating agreement that released well-known terrorists from Indian jails in return for the safety of passengers, the case was not, and could not be, registered as a federal crime. Indian Airlines reported to Delhi police that its plane, due to arrive in Delhi, was missing. “Hamaara hawaai jahaaz nahin aayaa”. It was registered as a Delhi-based crime. Second, Central agencies—including the national security guards (or commandos), who are especially trained for urban terrorism—simply cannot function without the cooperation of state police. Requisition from state governments is legally required before the commandos can be used. India’s commandos were all based in Delhi when Mumbai was terrorised. After Mumbai, hubs have been created in Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. As a consequence, they can be deployed more quickly, but for operations, they still need the assistance of state police. NSG commandos have no knowledge of local specificities. State police remains the greatest repository of ground-level intelligence in India.Third, all serious students of terrorism recognise that intelligence is central to the prevention of terrorism. Since terrorists are willing to sacrifice their lives, one can only try to minimise damage, not avoid it, once the act of terror has begun. Unfortunately, India’s intelligence system is fractured and weak. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the institution often identified as the leading intelligence agency of India, is most unlike America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In contrast to the FBI, which combines intelligence and investigation functions, the CBI is primarily an ex-post investigation body, not an intelligence collecting agency. For the latter, it depends primarily on state police, and secondarily on Delhi’s Intelligence Bureau (IB). The CBI was established under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Its direct jurisdiction covers Delhi and the centrally administered Union Territories. Unlike the FBI, it can not pursue investigation at the state level on its own. To investigate, it must receive state requisition or consent, or be ordered to do so by the Supreme Court or a High Court. In other words, for it to function well, it depends heavily on state police. It can also team up with Delhi’s Intelligence Bureau (IB), but the IB reports to India’s home ministry, whereas the CBI reports to the ministry of personnel. The cooperation is not always forthcoming. More importantly, the IB simply does not have the same intelligence-gathering machinery as the state police does. State governments have the constitutional right to deny permission for CBI investigations. Goa, for example, did so during the late 1990s. Maharashtra did not hand over cases concerning the Mumbai blasts of 1993 to the CBI for almost a year. Northeastern states have often denied permission to the CBI. At the root of this problem is the dark underbelly of Indian politics: corruption and vendetta. The CBI is not trusted by state leaders for they believe it is politically used by Delhi to target adversaries. The adversaries may be accused of corruption, or even violent crime. It does not matter that such corruption or criminal conduct may often be real, not imagined. But over the last 20-30 years, as politicians accused of crime and corruption have, in particular, risen in politics, the CBI has been caught in a political crossfire. Delhi often wants to use it, but the CBI faces enormous resistance at the state level, especially if the state government is run by a coalition or political party different from that ruling in Delhi. So long as the Congress party ruled both in Delhi and the states, there was no such resistance. Such matters were handled as internal negotiations within the party. Moreover, in the 1950s and 1960s, the era of Congress dominance, no one had imagined the possibility of terror, let alone cross-border terror. The rise of a coalitional era might have made Indian politics much more democratic, federal and competitive, but national security has suffered as a consequence. Although this problem cannot be fully resolved unless corruption and crime begin to disappear from Indian politics, India’s political process has thrown up a potential solution. Via a Parliamentary act, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created after the Mumbai attacks. In theory, the NIA can become India’s FBI, but serious impediments remain. The NIA Act was created using an entry related to defence of India on the Central list. Of all security matters, only defence of India is handled by Delhi. What is generally called internal, as opposed to external, security is almost entirely under state jurisdiction. The NIA Act is not a constitutional amendment, which would have required approval of two thirds of Parliament and half the states, not easily possible in a coalitional era. The concept of a federal crime, requiring a constitutional amendment, has still not been introduced precisely for the same reason. States would not give consent if they believe that the NIA might become a much more powerful CBI.The NIA does not yet have an elaborate organisational structure of its own. And that may not happen until two conditions are satisfied. First, if more Mumbai-style attacks happen, it is possible for security to become an overriding national objective that no political party can ignore without peril. Thus far, terrorism is an element in India’s elite politics, not in its mass politics. It does not determine election outcomes. Second, if the Congress party, currently showing signs of revival, becomes even stronger, both in national Parliament and at the state level, it would also allow the possibility of a constitutional amendment. The first condition is not desirable, the second somewhat improbable, if not impossible, at the moment. India’s home minister is well known for his intellectual firepower, but his hands are tied. He can only do the following: modernise the intelligence system through new technologies; try to generate a better knowledge system—for example, a national counter-terrorism centre—that supports national security; create institutions that seek to coordinate the rather fractured intelligence. State governments might also create their own commando forces, as Maharashtra appears to be doing and Andhra did some years back. All of these measures would help, but the home minister cannot legally force a state government to accept the dictates of the NIA unless a constitutional amendment introducing the concept of federal crime is put through. However desirable such a concept in the 21st century might be, India’s federal polity will not easily allow it to come about.
Ashutosh Varshney is a professor of political science at Brown University. His books include, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India.
Lamont, Michèle, and Bruno Cousin. 2009. “The French Disconnection”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bruno Cousin and Michèle Lamont say academics at France's public universities need to rethink their strategy after this year's protests alienated the public and had little impact on the Government. var pgtitle = "The French disconnection"; var byline = "";Between February and June 2009, French universities were the theatre of an exceptional protest movement against the latest flavour of governmental reform concerning academic careers. Protest sometimes seems to be a way of life in the French academy, and in France at large, but this time the situation is serious, with potentially huge consequences for the future of the sector. Indeed, the nation that gave birth to je pense, donc je suis is in a deep crisis on the intellectual front, and nowhere is this as obvious as in academic evaluation.The protest movement did not take off in the grandes écoles (which train much of the French elite), or in professional and technical schools. Instead, it took off in the 80 comprehensive universités—the public institutions that are the backbone of the French educational system. Until two years ago, they were required to admit any high-school graduate on a first-come, first-served basis. A selection process was recently introduced, but even today most students are there because they could not gain entry elsewhere. Faculty work conditions are generally poor, as their institutions are chronically underfunded. Classes are large and programmes are understaffed. More than half of all students leave without any kind of diploma.Public universities can be very different from each other and are research-intensive in varying degrees, but they carry out the bulk of French scientific research. Research is largely conducted in centres that are located within these institutions, and which often bring together overworked university teachers and full-time researchers who are attached to national institutes such as the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). In a context where the output of these joint centres is not, or is only partially, covered by international ratings, French academics feel doubly underrated owing to the combination of low salaries and low ratings.This feeling was exacerbated on 22 January when President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the poor performance of French universities in international rankings was, above all, the consequence of the absence of continuous evaluation, which encourages sloth. Of course, he was displeased that the extensive set of higher education reforms undertaken by his Government during the preceding two years were met with opposition by large segments of the academic community.Everyone agrees that the current system poses a great many problems, but there is no agreement on how to improve it and get beyond the current gridlock. It is la société bloquée all over again. To wit:- While most academics believe that the system is far too centralised, a 2007 law establishing the progressive financial “autonomy” (and accountability) of universities has been met with criticism and resistance, because it is perceived to be part of a strategy of withdrawal on the part of the State that will result in fewer resources being available for higher education. A number of scholars also fear that the increased decision-making power conferred on university presidents is a threat to the autonomy of faculty members.- While there is a need to design new, more universalistic procedures for evaluating performance and distributing resources, many academics are sceptical of the new institutions recently created to do this, namely the national agencies for the evaluation of universities and research units (Agence d'Evaluation de la Recherche et de l'Enseignement Superieur, or AERES) and research projects (Agence Nationale de la Recherche, or ANR). The former, in particular, has been criticised for its reliance on bibliometrics (publication and citation counts), even if the agency is now moving towards using less quantitative standards. Moreover, whereas the former mechanisms for distributing research funds depended on the decisions of elected peers (for instance, on the national committee of the CNRS), AERES appoints its panel members, and this is seen as a blow to researchers' autonomy. For this and other reasons, many academics have refused to serve on its evaluation panels.- While academics often agree that the old CNRS needed further integration with the universities, many denounce its gradual downsizing and transformation from a comprehensive research institution to a simple funding and programming agency as the work of uninformed politicians and technocrats intent on dismantling what works best in French research. In 2004, a widespread national protest arose against this dismantling, with 74,000 scholars signing a petition against it. Critics also say that the ongoing reorganisation of the CNRS into disciplinary institutes will reinforce the separation between the sciences, reorient research towards more applied fields and work against the interdisciplinary collaborations that are crucial to innovation in many fields.- While many agree on the need to improve teaching, moves to increase the number of teaching hours are among the most strongly contested reforms. French academics, who very rarely have sabbaticals, already perceive themselves as overworked in a system where time for research is increasingly scarce. These factors help to explain the resistance to expanded classroom hours and new administrative duties.In the longest strike ever organised by the French scientific community, tens of thousands of lecturers and researchers began in early February to hold protests over a period of several weeks, demonstrating in the streets and (with the support of some students) blocking access to some university campuses. Many also participated in a national debate via print, online and broadcast media, and in general meetings. Some faculty members held teach-ins and action-oriented “alternative courses” for students. Several universities saw their final exams and summer holidays delayed and many foreign exchange students were called back by their home institutions. Despite this frontal assault, the Government did not back down: the much disparaged decree reorganising academic careers (with regard to recruitment, teaching loads, evaluations and promotions) and giving more prerogatives and autonomy to university presidents came into effect on 23 April.This outcome will probably lead academics and their unions to rethink their strategies and repertoires of collective action. The traditional protest forms are losing legitimacy. As the dust settles, it is becoming clear that demonstrating has little traction in a context where the French public increasingly perceives academics as an elite bent on defending its privileges, even if it requires depriving students of their courses. Negotiation is also perceived as ineffectual, as many suspect that governmental consultations were conducted to buy time until the end of the academic year, when mobilisation would peter out. A third strategy—the radical option that would have prevented the scheduling of exams and the handing out of diplomas at the end of this spring—was ruled out even on the campuses most committed to the cause for fear of alienating the public even further.As yet, however, no clear alternative has surfaced. We are now witnessing a cleavage between those who voice their opposition (in the main, scholars in the humanities) and the increasing number of academics (primarily scientists) who espouse a “wait-and-see” or a collaborative position as the only realistic path to improving the situation in their own universities. If the majority of academics appear to share the same diagnosis about what needs to be changed in the French system, they disagree on the solution (and on its scale—national or local). The root of the crisis lies not only in the Government's difficulties in generating consensus, but also in the academics' own scepticism, cynicism or fatalism about meritocracy, the absence of the administrative resources needed to support proper evaluation, the possibility of impartial evaluation, and the system's ability to recognise and reward merit.Deep problems remain in the institutions charged with evaluating the work of academics. The interference of political power, and the (admittedly diminishing) influence of trade unions and corporatist associations have long been viewed as obstacles to a collegial system of academic evaluation. The legitimacy of the 70 disciplinary sections of the Conseil National des Universites (CNU)—charged with certifying individuals as eligible for faculty positions, and with directly granting some promotions—is under question. Some of its committee members are appointed by the Government and as such are suspected of being second-rate, of benefiting from governmental patronage, or of defending governmental interests. Others are chosen from electoral lists that include a disproportionate number of partisan members, who are often perceived to be there because of their political involvement rather than because of their scientific status.The legitimacy of these committees is further called into question because they include only academics employed by French institutions and are often viewed as perpetuating a longstanding tradition of favouritism. To give only one particularly scandalous example: in June, panellists in the sociology section allocated to themselves half of the promotions that they were charged with assigning across the entire discipline of sociology. This led to the resignation of the rest of the commission and to multiple protests. Such an occurrence sent deep waves of distrust not only between academics, but also towards the civil servants charged with reforming a system that is increasingly viewed as flawed.Peer review is also in crisis at the local level. While selecting young doctoral recipients to be maîtres de conférences (the entry level permanent position in the French academy, similar to the British lecturer), French universities on average fill 30 per cent of available posts with their own graduates, to the point where local clientelism is often decried as symbolising the corruption of the entire system. The typical (and only) job interview for such a post lasts 20 to 30 minutes—probably the European record for brevity and surely too short to determine whether an individual deserves what is essentially a lifelong appointment. Many view the selection process as little more than a means to legitimise the appointment of pre-selected candidates—although the extent to which this is genuinely the case varies across institutions.What is to be done? Because both the CNU and the local selection committees have recently been reorganised or granted new responsibilities, it seems the right moment to think about how to improve the evaluation processes in very practical ways. As part of a new start, academics should aim to generate a system of true self-governance at each level, grounded in more explicit principles for peer review. This would put them in a position to defend academic autonomy against the much-feared and maligned governmental or managerial control. While this is certainly occurring in some disciplines and institutions, progress is far from being equally spread across the sector.Obvious and costless regulatory measures could easily be implemented—for instance, discouraging universities from hiring their own PhD graduates (as AERES recently started to), or forbidding selection committees from promoting their own members. One could also look abroad for examples of “best practice”. The UK's Economic and Social Research Council has created colleges of trained academic evaluators who are charged with maintaining academic and ethical standards in peer review; although not all aspects of the British approach to academic reform should be emulated, this one is particularly worthy.The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) uses teams of elected experts to evaluate proposals, and academic reputation weighs heavily in determining which names will be put on electoral lists and who will serve on evaluation panels. Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council recently asked an independent panel of international experts to evaluate its peer review process in order to improve impartiality and effectiveness.In a recent book on peer review in the US, one of the present authors (Michele Lamont) showed the ways in which American social scientists and humanists operate to maintain their faith in the idea that peer review works and that the academic system of evaluation is fair. In this case, academics exercise their right as the only legitimate evaluators of knowledge by providing detailed assessment of intellectual production in light of their extensive expertise in specialised topics. The exercise of peer evaluation sustains and expresses professional status and professional autonomy. But it requires significant time (and thus good working conditions) and moral commitment—time spent comparing dossiers, making principled decisions about when it is necessary to withdraw on the grounds of personal interest, and so forth. Of course no peer review works perfectly, but US academics, while being aware of its limitations, appear to view the system as relatively healthy and they engage in many actions that contribute to sustaining this faith.In our view, fixing the current flaws in the French system does not merely demand organisational reforms, including giving academics more time to evaluate the research of colleagues and candidates properly. It may also require French academics to think long and hard about their own cynicism and fatalism concerning their ability to make judgments about quality that would not be driven by cronyism or particularism, and that would honour their own expertise and connoisseurship.Not that proper governmental reform is not needed, but sometimes blaming the Government may be an easy way out. Above all, it is increasingly a very ineffectual way of tackling a substantial part of the problem. A little more collaborative thinking and a little less cynicism among both academics and administrators—if at all possible - may very well help French universities find a way out of the crisis. And it will help the French academic and research community to become, once again, much more than the sum of its parts.
Bruno Cousin is postdoctoral research scholar in sociology at Harvard University and Sciences Po Paris. Michèle Lamont is Robert I. Goldman professor of European studies and professor of sociology and African and African-American studies at Harvard University. She is the author of How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment (2009). She chaired the 2008 international panel of experts evaluating peer review practices at the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Ferguson, Niall. 2009. “Dead Men Walking”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
There is nothing like a really big economic crisis to separate the Cassandras from the Panglosses, the horsemen of the apocalypse from the Kool-Aid-swigging optimists. No, the last year has shown that all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds. On the contrary, we might be doomed.At such times, we do well to remember that most of today’s public intellectuals are mere dwarves, standing on the shoulders of giants. So, if they had e-mail in the hereafter, which of the great thinkers of the past would be entitled to send us a message with the subject line: “I told you so”? And which would prefer to remain offline?It has, for example, been a bad year for Adam Smith (1723-1790) and his “invisible hand,” which was supposed to steer the global economy onward and upward to new heights of opulence through the action of individual choice in unfettered markets. By contrast, it has been a good year for Karl Marx (1818-1883), who always maintained that the internal contradictions of capitalism, and particularly its tendency to increase the inequality of the distribution of wealth, would lead to crisis and finally collapse. A special mention is also due to early 20th-century Marxist theorist Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941), whose Das Finanzkapital foresaw the rise of giant “too big to fail” financial institutions.Joining Smith in embarrassed silence, you might think, is Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), who warned back in 1944 that the welfare state would lead the West down the “road to serfdom.” With a government-mandated expansion of health insurance likely to be enacted in the United States, Hayek's libertarian fears appear to have receded, at least in the Democratic Party. It has been a bumper year, on the other hand, for Hayek's old enemy, John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), whose 1936 work The General Theory of Employment,Interest and Money has become the new bible for finance ministers seeking to reduce unemployment by means of fiscal stimuli. His biographer, Robert Skidelsky, has hailed the “return of the master.” Keynes's self-appointed representative on Earth, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, insists that the application of Keynesian theory, in the form of giant government deficits, has saved the world from a second Great Depression.The marketplace of ideas has not been nearly so kind this year to the late Milton Friedman (1912-2006), the diminutive doyen of free-market economics. “Inflation,” wrote Friedman in a famous definition, “is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, in the sense that it cannot occur without a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.” Well, since September of 2008, Ben Bernanke has been printing dollars like mad at the U.S. Federal Reserve, more than doubling the monetary base. And inflation? As I write, the headline consumer price inflation rate is negative 2 percent. Better throw away that old copy of Friedman's Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (co-authored with Anna J. Schwartz, who is happily still with us).Invest, instead, in a spanking new edition of The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi (1886-1964). We surely need Polanyi's more anthropological approach to economics to explain the excesses of the boom and the hysteria of the bust. For what in classical economics could possibly account for the credulity of investors in Bernard Madoff's long-running Ponzi scheme? Or the folly of Richard Fuld, who gambled his personal fortune and reputation on the very slim chance that Lehman Brothers, unlike Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, could survive the crisis without being sold to a competitor?The biggest intellectual losers of all, however, must be the pioneers of the theory of efficient markets—economists still with us, such as Harry M. Markowitz, the University of Chicago-trained economist who developed the theory of portfolio diversification as the best protection against economic volatility, and William Sharpe, inventor of the capital asset pricing model. In two marvelously lucid books, the late Peter Bernstein extolled their “capital ideas.” Now, with so many quantitative hedge funds on the scrap heap, their ideas don't seem quite so capital.And the biggest winners, among economists at least? Step forward the "Austrians" —economists like Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), who always saw credit-propelled asset bubbles as the biggest threat to the stability of capitalism. Not many American economists carried forward their work into the later 20th century, but one heterodox figure has emerged as a posthumous beneficiary of this crisis: Hyman Minsky (1919-1996). At a time when other University of Chicago-trained economists were forging the neoclassical synthesis—Adam Smith plus applied math—Minsky developed his own math-free “financial instability hypothesis.”Yet it would surely be wrong to make the Top Dead Thinker of 2009 an economic theorist. The entire discipline of economics has flopped too embarrassingly for that to be appropriate. Instead, we should consider the claims of a historian, because history has served as a far better guide to the current crisis than any economic model. My nominee is the financial historian Charles Kindleberger (1910-2003), who drew on Minsky's work to popularize the idea of financial crisis as a five-stage process, from displacement and euphoric overtrading to full-fledged mania, followed by growing concern and ending up with panic. (If those five steps to financial hell sound familiar, they should. We just went down them, twice in the space of 10 years.)Of course, history offers more than just the lesson that financial accidents will happen. One of the most important historical truths is that the first draft of history —the version that gets written on the spot by journalists and other contemporaries —is nearly always wrong. So though superficially this crisis seems like a defeat for Smith, Hayek, and Friedman, and a victory for Marx, Keynes, and Polanyi, that might well turn out to be wrong. Far from having been caused by unregulated free markets, this crisis may have been caused by distortions of the market from ill-advised government actions: explicit and implicit guarantees to supersize banks, inappropriate empowerment of rating agencies, disastrously loose monetary policy, bad regulation of big insurers, systematic encouragement of reckless mortgage lending—not to mention distortions of currency markets by central bankConsider this: The argument for avoiding mass bank failures was made by Friedman, not Keynes. It was Friedman who argued that the principal reason for the depth of the Depression was the Fed's failure to avoid an epidemic of bank failures. It has been Friedman, more than Keynes, who has been Bernanke’s inspiration over the past two years, as the Fed chairman has honored a pledge he made shortly before Friedman's death not to preside over another “great contraction.” Nor would Friedman have been in the least worried about inflation at a time like this. The Fed's balance sheet may have expanded rapidly, but broader measures of money are growing slowly and credit is contracting. Deflation, not inflation, remains the monetarist fear.From a free market perspective, the vital thing is that legitimate emergency measures do not become established practices. For it cannot possibly be a healthy state of affairs for the core institutions of the Western financial system to be effectively guaranteed, if not actually owned, by the government. The thinker who most clearly discerned the problems associated with that kind of state intervention was Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), whose “creative destruction” has been one of this year's most commonly cited phrases.“[T]his evolutionary…impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion,” wrote Schumpeter in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, “comes from…the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates…This process of creative destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.” This crisis has certainly unleashed enough economic destruction in the world (though its creativity at this stage is still hard to discern). But in the world of the big banks, there has been far too little destruction, and about the only creative thing happening on Wall Street these days is the accounting.“This economic system,” Schumpeter wrote in his earlier The Theory of Economic Development, “cannot do without the ultima ratio [final argument] of the complete destruction of those existences which are irretrievably associated with the hopelessly unadapted.” Indeed, he saw that the economy remained saddled with too many of “those firms that are unfit to live.” That could serve as a painfully accurate description of the Western financial system today.Yet all those allusions to evolution and fitness to live serve as a reminder of the dead thinker we should all have spent at least part of 2009 venerating: Charles Darwin (1809-1882). This year was not only his bicentennial but the 150th birthday of his paradigm-shifting On the Origin of Species. Just reflect on these sentences from Darwin's seminal work:All organic beings are exposed to severe competition.”“As more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence.”“Each organic being…has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction.... The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.”Thanks in no small measure to the efforts of his modern heirs, notably Richard Dawkins, we are all Darwinians now—except in the strange parallel worlds of fundamentalist Christianity and state-guaranteed finance.Neither Cassandra nor Pangloss, Darwin surely deserves to top any list of modern thinkers, dead or alive.
Putnam, Robert D, and Thomas H Sander. 2009. “How Joblessness Hurts Us All”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The unemployment rate has topped 10% for the first time in a quarter-century. More than one in six adults are unemployed or underemployed, the most since the Great Depression. By any measure this is troubling, but the long-term effects of unemployment are more devastating than most Americans grasp. Economists warn that high unemployment may persist for years.Misery, it turns out, doesn't love company. Distressing new research shows that unemployment fosters social isolation not just for the unemployed but also for their still-employed neighbors. Moreover, the negative consequences last much longer than the unemployment itself. Policymakers have focused on short-term help for the jobless, but they must address these longer-term community effects, too.Impact studiedRecent studies confirm the results of research during the Great Depression— unemployment badly frays a person's ties with his community, sometimes permanently. After careful analysis of 20 years of monthly surveys tracking Americans' social and political habits, our colleague Chaeyoon Lim of the University of Wisconsin has found that unemployed Americans are significantly less involved in their communities than their employed demographic twins. The jobless are less likely to vote, petition, march, write letters to editors, or even volunteer. They attend fewer meetings and serve less frequently as leaders in local organizations. Moreover, sociologist Cristobal Young's research finds that the unemployed spend most of their increased free time alone.These negative social consequences outlast the unemployment itself. Tracking Wisconsin 1957 high school graduates, sociologists Jennie Brand and Sarah Burgard found that in contrast to comparable classmates who were never unemployed, graduates who lost jobs, even briefly and early in their careers, joined community groups less and volunteered considerably less over their entire lives. And economist Andrew Clark, psychologist Richard Lucas and others found that, unlike almost any other traumatic life event, joblessness results in permanently lower levels of life satisfaction, even if the jobless later find jobs.Equally disturbing, high unemployment rates reduce the social and civic involvement even of those still employed. Lim has found that Americans with jobs who live in states with high unemployment are less civically engaged than workers elsewhere. In fact, most of the civic decay in hard-hit communities is likely due not to the jobless dropping out, but to their still-employed neighbors dropping out.Moreover, beyond civic disengagement, places with higher joblessness have more pervasive violence and crimes against property. They have more fragile families with harsher parenting, and higher rates of mental disorder and psychological distress among both the unemployed and the employed. These social consequences are a powerful aftershock to communities already reeling economically.What might explain the civic withdrawal during recessions? The jobless shun socializing, shamed that their work was deemed expendable. Economic depression breeds psychological depression. The unemployed may feel that their employer has broken an implicit social contract, deflating any impulse to help others. Where unemployment is high, those still hanging onto their jobs might work harder for fear of further layoffs, thus crowding out time for civic engagement. Above all, in afflicted communities, the contagion of psychic depression and social isolation spreads more rapidly than joblessness itself.What to do?The lasting social consequences of unemployment demand remedy. President Obama has extended individual unemployment benefits.These new findings call for special aid to communities with high and persistent unemployment. Government and business should ensure that unemployment is a last cost-cutting move, not the first.Millions of employed Americans are silently thankful that the sword of Damocles has not yet fallen on them. Meanwhile, they and their leaders overlook the fact that unemployment is causing long-run social disintegration in their communities. Albert Camus was right: “Without work, all life goes rotten.”
Thomas H. Sander is executive director of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, at Harvard Kennedy School. Robert D. Putnam is Peter & Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and co-author of the forthcoming American Grace: The Changing Role of Religion in America.
The Economics of Metonymy
Roilos, Panagiotis. 2009. The Economics of Metonymy. University of Illinois Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Konstantinos P. Kavafis—known to the English-reading world as C. P. Cavafy—has been internationally recognized as an important poet and attracted the admiration of eminent literary figures such as E. M. Forster, F. T. Marinetti, W. H. Auden, George Seferis, and James Merrill. Cavafy's idiosyncratic poetry remains one of the most influential and perplexing voices of European modernism.Focusing on Cavafy's intriguing work, this book navigates new territories in critical theory and offers an interdisciplinary study of the construction of (homo)erotic desire in poetry in terms of metonymic discourse and anti-economic libidinal modalities. Panagiotis Roilos shows that problematizations of art production, market economy, and trafficability of erôs in diverse late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European sociocultural and political contexts were re-articulated in Cavafy's poetry in new subversive ways that promoted an "unorthodox" discursive and libidinal anti-economy of jouissance.
Simmons, Beth A. 2009. Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This volume argues that international human rights law has made a positive contribution to the realization of human rights in much of the world. Although governments sometimes ratify human rights treaties, gambling that they will experience little pressure to comply with them, this is not typically the case. Focusing on rights stakeholders rather than the United Nations or state pressure, Beth Simmons demonstrates through a combination of statistical analyses and case studies that the ratification of treaties leads to better rights practices on average. Simmons argues that international human rights law should get more practical and rhetorical support from the international community as a supplement to broader efforts to address conflict, development, and democratization.Appendices for the book are available below for download:
Hall, Peter A, and Michèle Lamont. 2009. Successful Societies: How Institutions and Culture Affect Health. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Why are some societies more successful than others at promoting individual and collective well-being? This book integrates recent research in social epidemiology with broader perspectives in social science to explore why some societies are more successful than others at securing population health. It explores the social roots of health inequalities, arguing that inequalities in health are based not only on economic inequalities, but on the structure of social relations. It develops sophisticated new perspectives on social relations, which emphasize the ways in which cultural frameworks as well as institutions condition people’s health. It reports on research into health inequalities in the developed and developing worlds, covering a wide range of national case studies, and into the ways in which social relations condition the effectiveness of public policies aimed at improving health.
Domínguez, Jorge I, Chappell H Lawson, and Alejandro Moreno. 2009. Consolidating Mexico's Democracy: The 2006 Presidential Campaign in Comparative Perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In 2006, Felipe Calderón narrowly defeated Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico's hotly contested presidential election. Mexico's 2006 presidential race demonstrated the importance of contested elections in democratic consolidation. Consolidating Mexico's Democracy is at once a close examination of this historic election and an original contribution to the comparative study of elections throughout the world. The contributors to this volume—preeminent scholars from the fields of political science and government—make use of extensive research data to analyze the larger issues and voter practices at play in this election. With their exclusive use of panel surveys—where individuals are interviewed repeatedly to ascertain whether they have changed their voter preference during an election campaign—the contributors gather rich evidence that uniquely informs their assessment of the impact of the presidential campaign and the voting views of Mexican citizens.The contributors find that, regardless of the deep polarization between the presidential candidates, the voters expressed balanced and nuanced political views, focusing on the perceived competence of the candidates. The essays here suggest the 2006 election, which was only the second fully free and competitive presidential election allowed by the Mexican government, edged the country closer to the pattern of public opinion and voting behavior that is familiar in well-established democracies in North America and Western Europe.
Walter, Stefanie, and Linda Maduz. 2009. “How globalization shapes individual risk perceptions and policy preferences”.Abstract
How does globalization affect individuals and their perceptions and policy preferences? This paper uses new developments in international trade theory to propose a new way of conceptualizing and measuring the extent to which an individual can be characterized as globalization winner or loser. We argue that the distributional effect of exposure to international competition is conditional on individuals’ ability. Low-ability workers exposed to the international economy face lower wages and higher risk of unemployment, and can therefore be characterized as globalization losers. In contrast, high-ability workers receive higher wages when they are exposed to international competition are therefore identified as globalization winners. To illustrate the usefulness of this approach for political scientists, the paper revisits the debate about the determinants of social policy preferences. Using crossnational survey data from 16 countries we show that globalization has significant and heterogenous individual-level effects. Exposure to globalization increases risk perceptions and demands for more income redistribution among individuals with low levels of education (as a proxy for ability), but decreases these perceptions and demands among highly educated respondents.