Publications by Type: Journal Article

Caselli, Francesco, Alberto Giovannini, and Timothy Lane. 2004. “Fiscal Discipline and the Cost of Public Debt Service: Some Estimates for OECD Countries”. Abstract

Is there any systematic explanation of variations in the cost of debt servicing over time and across countries? This paper examines the influence of fiscal variables on borrowing costs in a panel of OECD countries, showing that these variables have a significant role. In particular, an improvement of the primary fiscal balance and a reduction in the stock of outstanding debt are associated with significant reductions in debt servicing costs, amplifying the effects of primary adjustment on the fiscal position. These effects appear to be non–linear: more pronounced for highly–indebted countries. A significant country–specific component remains, however; several explanations for this component are discussed, including debt management and market infrastructure.

Many observers suggest that white evangelical Protestant Churches serve to mobilize their members into politics, while others argue that they encourage withdrawal from political life. This paper reconciles these two claims. I hypothesize that the time members of evangelical Protestant denominations spend in service to their church comes at the expense of participation in the wider community, contrary to the way mainline Protestant and Catholic churches foster civic activity among their members. However, I further hypothesize that the tight social networks formed through this intensive church activity can at times facilitate rapid and intense political mobilization. Data from the Citizen Participation Study supports the first hypothesis, while applying King's method of ecological inferences to the two elections in Alabama supports the second.

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Some time during dinner on Saturday, November 16, 1532, Fray Vincente de Valverde, chaplain to Francisco de Pizzaro, is reported to have explained to an interlocutor of the Inca host, Atahualpa, why tribute was to be paid to God through King Charles IV of Spain. The Inca spokesperson responded with a series of logically–reasoned questions, which invited argumentation. Instead, the Spanish assemblage leapt from their seats, attacked their hosts, and stole the Inca's gold and silver. From that point on, argues Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel, the possibility of a genuine multi–ethnic discursive community in Latin America has remained permanently quagmired in asymmetry.


Research has begun to show how powerfully social capital, or its absence, affects the well being of individuals, organizations, and nations. Economics studies demonstrate that social capital makes workers more productive, firms more competitive, and nations more prosperous. Psychological research indicates that abundant social capital makes individuals less prone to depression and more inclined to help others. Epidemiological reports show that social capital decreases the rate of suicide, colds, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, and improves individuals? ability to fight or recover from illnesses once they have struck. Sociology experiments suggest that social capital reduces crime, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, child abuse, welfare dependency, and drug abuse, and increases student test scores and graduation rates. From political science, we know that extensive social capital makes government agencies more responsive, efficient, and innovative. And from our own personal experience we know that social capital makes navigating life a whole lot easier: our friends and family members cheer us up when we?re down, bring us chicken soup when we?re sick, offer job leads when we?re unemployed, baby–sit our kids when we?re away away, join us at the movies when we?re bored, give us loans when we?re broke, and remember our birthdays when even we forget them.

It is becoming increasingly clear that social capital has an enormous array of practical benefits to individuals and to communities. What is more, social capital has what economists call "positive externalities." That is, networks of trust and reciprocity not only benefit those within them, but also those outside them. Consequently, when social capital is depleted, people suffer in clear and measurable ways, and there is a ripple effect beyond a scattering of lonely individuals. Shoring up our stocks of social capital, therefore, represents one of the most promising approaches for remedying all sorts of social ills.

Yet the national stockpile of social capital has been seriously depleted over the past 30 years. By virtually every measure, today?s Americans are more disconnected from one another and from the institutions of civic life than at any time since statistics have been kept. Whether as family members, neighbors, friends, or citizens, we are tuning out rather than turning out.

Published as: Putnam, Robert D., and Lewis M. Feldstein. Better Together: Restoring the American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

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This paper examines the expropriation of a foreign investor by a local partner and the subsequent resolution of that case through international arbitration. Ronald Lauder, a U.S. investor, created a media holding company for investments in Eastern Europe that included a once–successful joint venture with Vladimir Zelezny in the Czech Republic. Despite Lauder's 99% interest in the underlying Czech entity, Zelezny managed to divert the value of the underlying entity for his personal benefit. Subsequent to the expropriation, Lauder employed international agreements and tribunals to recoup 354.9 million USD from the Czech Republic. This clinical examination of an expropriation and its aftermath illustrates how ownership shares can be of secondary importance in determining control, how corporate control is shaped by geography, and how differential access to investor protections in global capital markets can contribute to the persistence of differences, rather than convergence, in investor protections.

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Ho, Engseng. 2004. “Empire through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat.” Comparative Studies of Society and History 46 (2): 210-246. Abstract

In 1982, Eric Wolf published Europe and the People Without History to identify and begin rectifying large gaps in anthropological knowledge. That project remains unfinished. In the past year, since September 11, 2001, the necessity of filling in some of these gaps has become urgent. The history of relations between Western powers and transnational Muslim societies in the Indian Ocean is one of them. An anthropologically nuanced understanding of such societies as diasporas, thought in tandem with their continued relations with Western empires over five hundred years, lends a useful perspective on a set of conflicts which is massively unfolding. Threatening to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of a clash of civilizations (Huntington 1993) in popular discourse and political decision-making, a phenomenon on this horrendous scale remains within the purview of anthropologists if one sees it as an instance of culture contact under conditions of global imperialism, unmitigated by colonial administration.

The distinction between imperialism and colonialism is critical. Talal Asad's Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (1973) launched anthropology on an auto-critique by noting that its quiet field sites were fields of colonial power, and its practitioners members of colonizing societies. Colonialism refers to foreign presence in, possession of, and domination over bounded, local places. Today, the multi-sited ethnographies we increasingly pursue need to be analytically framed within a field of power which is transnational. The term imperialism refers to foreign domination, without the necessity of presence or possession, over expansive, transnational spaces—and many places. Within the purview of U.S. power, then, the appropriate term for this frame is not postcolonialism, but ongoing imperialism. The time may soon be upon us for a sequel to Asad's volume, now trained on American anthropology and the imperial encounter. While the terms globalization, neo-liberalism, and late-liberalism may have been productive in probing the complexities of consent to contemporary transnational hegemony, they have been less attentive to its classical twin, coercion. While colonialism may be the past of British and French anthropology, imperialism is the long present of the American one. Thus the sense of urgency, again (Hymes 1999[1969]).

In what follows, I look at a series of contacts between Western empires and Muslim societies through the eyes of a Muslim diaspora, as it were, a mobile people with a written history. The review suggests that what is new to this history is the unique nature of American power worldwide. In its global reach it is imperial, but in its disavowal of administration on the ground, it is anti-colonial. Decoupling the concept of colonialism from that of imperialism is a necessary step in thinking about this new mode of domination, and it is a task this essay sets for itself.

Citation: Ho, Engseng. “Empire through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat” Society for Comparative Study of Society and History.(April 2004): 210-246.


This paper studies the effects of financial constraints on firm growth by investigating if large depreciations differentially impact multinational affiliates and local firms in emerging markets. U.S. multinational affiliates increase sales, assets and investment significantly more than local firms during, and subsequent to, currency crises. The enhanced relative performance of multinationals is traced to their ability to use internal capital markets to capitalize on the competitiveness benefits of large depreciations. Investment specifications indicate that increases in leverage resulting from sharp depreciations constrain local firms from capitalizing on these investment opportunities, but do not constrain multinational affiliates. Multinational parents also infuse new capital in their affiliates after currency crises. These results indicate another role for foreign direct investment in emerging markets–multinational affiliates expand economic activity during currency crises when local firms are most constrained.

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Under communism, the Russian religious landscape consisted mainly of two competitors – a severely repressed Russian Orthodox Church and a heavily promoted atheist alternative to religion called "scientific atheism". Under these circumstances, one might expect the rapid spread of religious disbelief. But the intensity of the atheist campaign originated from official mandate and not popular appeal. In turn, scientific atheism never inspired the Russian population and grew increasingly uninspired as Soviet officials created a monopoly "church" of scientific atheism in hopes of replacing persistent religious beliefs and practices. This paper is dedicated to explaining why communists could not successfully convert the masses to atheism. The findings provide evidence that systems of belief require more than simply the power of promotion and coercion to become accepted.

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One of the most important developments over the past three decades has been the spread of liberal economic ideas and policies throughout the world. These policies have affected the lives of millions of people, yet our most sophisticated political economy models do not adequately capture influences on these policy choices. Evidence suggests that the adoption of liberal economic practices is highly clustered both temporally and spatially. We hypothesize that this clustering might be due to processes of policy diffusion. We think of diffusion as resulting from one of two broad sets of forces: one in which mounting adoptions of a policy alter the benefits of adopting for others and another in which adoptions provide policy relevant information about the benefits of adopting. We develop arguments within these broad classes of mechanisms, construct appropriate measures of the relevant concepts, and test their effects on liberalization and restriction of the current account, the capital account, and the exchange rate regime. Our findings suggest that domestic models of foreign economic policy making are insufficient. The evidence shows that policy transitions are influenced by international economic competition as well as the policies of a country's sociocultural peers. We interpret the latter influence as a form of channeled learning reflecting governments' search for appropriate models for economic policy.

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What's fair when it comes to setting the terms of market access? The rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were meant to answer this question, as well as settle disputes surrounding it. On these grounds, it was also sold as the best means to open markets, encourage economic development, and facilitate economic exchange between countries, large and small—in effect, lifting all boats. Yet now, some ten years later, the organization is facing a tidal wave of charges regarding the uneven power of its member countries and persistent barriers to exchange. Some of the most vocal critics hail from the developing world. Their frustration over unequal market access, agricultural subsidies, and the inability "to right the rules" of trade culminated in disruption of the 1999 WTO meetings in Seattle, the collapse of WTO talks at Cancun in 2003, and the cautious optimism over recent gains in Geneva. At issue is whether the rules of international trade are being used to hold up or push ahead prosperity in the developing world.

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Helmke, Gretchen, and Steven Levitsky. 2004. “Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: A Research Agenda”. Abstract

Mainstream comparative research on political institutions focuses primarily on formal rules. Yet in many contexts, informal insti–tutions, ranging from bureaucratic and legislative norms to clientelism and patrimonialism, shape even more strongly political behavior and outcomes. Scholars who fail to consider these informal rules of the game risk missing many of the most important incentives and constraints that underlie political behavior. In this article we develop a framework for studying informal institutions and integrating them into comparative institutional analysis. The framework is based on a typology of four patterns of formal–informal institutional interaction: complementary, accommodating, competing, and substitutive. We then explore two issues largely ignored in the literature on this subject: the reasons and mechanisms behind the emergence of informal institutions, and the nature of their stability and change. Finally, we consider challenges in research on informal institutions, including issues of identification, measurement, and comparison.

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Robinson, James A. 2004. “Institutions, Volatility, and Crises”. Abstract

In Takatoshi Ito and Andrew K. Rose eds. Growth and Productivity in East Asia, Chicago and London; The University of Chicago Press.

There is a growing consensus among economists that differences in institution, in particular the enforcement of property rights, rule of law, and constraints placed on politicians and elites, have a first–order effect on long–run economic development? Recent empirical findings support this notion. There is a strong correlation between institutions and economic financial development? especially when we look at the historically determined differences in institutions?
In this paper and a companion paper, Acemoglu et al. (2003), we argue that institutions also have a first–order effect ion short– and medium–run economic instability. We document that societies that have weak institutions for historical reasons have suffered substantially more output volatility and experienced more severe output, exchange rate, banking, and political crises over the past thirty years. The link we document between the historically determined component of institutions and economic instability calls for a quiet different view of medium–run macroeconomic volatility, and for more work to understand the relationship between institutions and volatility. This paper is therefore meant more as a progress report to encourage others to investigate these issues.

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Desai, Mihir A. 2004. “Market Reactions to Export Subsidies”. Abstract

This paper analyzes the economic impact of export subsidies by investigating stock price reactions to a critical event in 1997. On November 18, 1997, the European Union announced its intention to file a complaint before the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that the United States provided American exporters illegal subsidies by permitting them to use Foreign Sales Corporations to exempt a fraction of export profits from taxation. Share prices of American exporters fell sharply on this news, and its implication that the WTO might force the United States to eliminate the subsidy. The share price declines were largest for exporters whose tax situations made the threatened export subsidy particularly valuable. Share prices of exporters with high profit margins also declined markedly on November 18, 1997, suggesting that the export subsidies were most valuable to firms earning market rents. This last evidence is consistent with strategic trade models in which export subsidies improve the competitive positions of firms in imperfectly competitive markets.

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This paper reassesses the burden of the current U.S. international tax regime and reconsiders well–known welfare benchmarks used to guide international tax reform. Reinventing corporate tax policy requires that international considerations be placed front and center in the debate on how to tax corporate income. A simple framework for assessing current rules suggests a U.S. tax burden on foreign income in the neighborhood of $50 billion a year. This sizeable U.S. taxation of foreign investment income is inconsistent with promoting efficient ownership of capital assets, either from a national or a global perspective. Consequently, there are large potential welfare gains available from reducing the U.S. taxation of foreign income, a direction of reform that requires abandoning the comfortable, if misleading, logic of using similar systems to tax foreign and domestic income.

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Many Europeans support common European Union (EU) representation in international institutions. But such a pooling international political influence raises complex and controversial issues. A common European foreign policy position implies compromise among EU members. The pooling international representation thus requires, as with many internal EU policies, that member states weigh the potential benefits of a common policy against the potential costs a policy not to their liking. There can be a trade–off between the advantages of scale and the disadvantages overriding heterogeneous preferences. Simple spatial models help to make this point, to clarify the circumstances in which a common European international representation is most likely, and to explain who is most likely to support or oppose a pooling of European foreign policies.

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Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2004. “Is Religion the Problem?”. Abstract

In the rubble following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the violent assault of September 11 lies the tawdry remnants of religion?s innocence. In those brief horrifying moments our images of religion came of age. Religion was found in bed with terrorism. Whatever bucolic and tranquil notions we may have had were rudely replaced by those that were tough, political, and sometimes violent. Is this the fault of religion? Has its mask been ripped off and its murky side exposed–or has its innocence been abused? Is religion the problem or the victim?

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The term "rent–seeking" refers to special interest group efforts to seek special benefits at little or no cost to themselves. Because government spending has the potential to create both costs and benefits for taxpayers, fiscal policy is commonly viewed as a primary arena of rent–seeking activity. At least five different theories of nineteenth–century American urban development fit this general rubric. Each theory predicts different winners and losers as well as different underlying strategies and distributions of interests incumbent upon municipal decision making. This study uses two–wave panel data on special interest group representation and municipal social spending to examine the validity of these different theories of rent–seeking. Though all such theories share in commonan emphasis on self–seeking, this study points to the role of competition between different sectors of the local economy as a motivating force for the formation and mobilization of spe–cial interest group organizations. This finding contrasts with those rent–seeking theories that predict widespread cooperation among communities and/or classes in pursuit of common goals. Suggestions for future research on this topic are offered as well.

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Iraq's new interim government has no time to lose. Though it was welcome news when the new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, announced that the militias of nine major political parties would disband and join the government's security forces by January 2005, this is only one of the monumental tasks and formidable obstacles that the new government faces. As I discovered in a recent visit to Baghdad, Iraq is in dire need of reconstruction–not only from the miseries of Saddam Hussein?s long dictatorship, but also from the failed policies of the one–year occupation by America's Coalition administration, which has left demoralization, humiliation, and a weak security and economic infrastructure in its wake.

Sadly, in the perception of many Iraqis, the US has taken on the ugly aura of a Saddam–like dictatorship. This means that the former CIA backing of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will be a problem, as will any other ties that he and members of the new government have to America. Although he cannot delete the CIA support from his resume Allawi will need to demonstrate his independence.

Pictures from this trip can be found on:

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Domínguez, Jorge I. 2004. “The Scholarly Study of Mexican Politics”. Abstract

This essay reviews the state of the scholarly study of Mexican politics. It focuses on research on political change since 1990. It discusses the political origins of economic problems and policies, including the enactment of NAFTA and the 1994–95 financial panic. It assesses the decline of the PRI, the presidency, and official organized labor; the role of urban protest and the Zapatista insurgency; and the revitalization of Congress, the Supreme Court, and state governments. It synthesizes the principal analytical findings on parties, public opinion, and elections.

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