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International Political Economy

Nationalist movements often argue that small countries are more economically successful than big ones.  The Scottish Nationalist Party claims that independence would allow Scotland to advance from ‘its subordinate position within the UK, and generate a new prosperity for Scotland’.  And former Plaid Cymru MP, Adam Price, who is currently taking a career  break at Harvard University, goes further, wrapping the ‘small  equals rich’ argument in a cloak of pseudo-academic jargon. Price’s article, published in an on-line student journal, is entitled ‘Small is Cute, Sexy and Successful’.  He argues that smaller countries grow faster because they are more open to trade, more socially cohesive and more adaptable.  Rather optimistically, Price even argues that differences in population size alone account for ‘mighty minnows’ outperforming the big five (UK, Italy, …

Taking a step back from the immediate uncertainty over Greece (see here for the latest updates), I’m struck by how similar the situation is to those created by the old 1980s/1990s IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). Reading accounts of the negotiations (especially a story in today’s New York Times about how the Germans, IMF, and ECB don’t trust the Greeks), you could rather easily replace “Greece” with “Nigeria” or “Senegal” and be transported 20 years back in time. We can go down the similarity-list. An urgent need for new official lending to roll over past debts? Tick. Tough loan conditionality attached? Tick. Domestic pushback and questionable democratic legitimacy? Tick. Of course, it’s all playing out more publicly/more quickly …

At the 2005 UN World Summit, more than 170 Heads of State and Government accepted three interlinked responsibilities, which together constitute the principle of ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P). First, States accepted the responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Second, States promised to assist each other in fulfilling their domestic protection responsibilities. And third, the international community took on a collective responsibility to react, in a timely and decisive manner, if particular States are manifestly failing to protect their populations from the abovementioned mass atrocity crimes. Despite a quite remarkable normative development (see for example the frequent invocation of R2P in relation to the recent Libya crisis), this R2P principle is …

Tony Blair’s establishment of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has been lauded by reporters and bloggers as being indicative of a “new” way for the international community to engage with African countries to assist in poverty reduction and to move “beyond aid” by “attract[ing] sustainable investment” to the continent. While the tenets of Blair’s AGI are fairly clear — focusing on strengthening African leadership and good governance and boosting economic growth through sustainable development of infrastructure — a visit to the AGI website is less than clear on how the initiative will (or can) ensure the necessary good governance. The AGI model can be summarized as: Leadership (founded on skills, systems and structures)  + prioritisation  + planning  + performance management  …

On June 21, at the Manor Road Building, Oxford University, Daniel Large and Luke Patey discussed the role of China and India in Sudan’s oil sector. This industry is of particular interest today, as on the 9th of July the country will split into Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan. The recent border clashes illustrate the lack of agreement between the two sides about the sharing of oil revenues. The two speakers situate this issue within an international context by contrasting the involvement of China and India and discussing the long-term prospects of Sudan’s oil industry, among other interesting questions. China’s involvement in Africa has become a hot topic in media and political discussions. This has concealed that of other Asian …

Numerous questions pose themselves for political economists about the crisis – enough (never waste a good crisis) to keep PhDs engaged for a generation. But in my view there are two big picture questions which modern comparative political economy needs to answer. One is why the epicentre of the crisis was in Wall Street and the City of London. The other is this: the crisis occurred as a result of failures in the main regulatory frameworks – the financial and the macroeconomic – which govern much of the workings of advanced economies. Why, in sharp contrast to the 1930s, have these frameworks changed little since the crisis? These questions raise major issues for our understanding of modern capitalism and its …