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Political Economy

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Private Investment without Public Commitment

Volatility in commodity prices has been accompanied by perpetual renegotiation of contracts between private investors in natural resource production and the governments of states with mineral and energy wealth. When prices skyrocket, governments want a larger share of revenues, sometimes to the point of nationalization or expropriation; when prices fall, larger state participation becomes a burden and the private sector is called back in.

East Asian countries were notably uninterested in regional monetary integration until the late 1990s, when the Asian financial crisis revealed the fragility of the region’s exchange rate arrangements and highlighted the need for a stronger regional financial architecture. Since then, the countries of East Asia have begun taking steps to explore monetary and financial cooperation, establishing such initiatives as regular consultations among finance ministers and central bank governors and the pooling of foreign exchange reserves.

Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios

Crisis in the Global Economy is the latest and most innovative collective reflection on the state of global capitalism, developed in the mobile "multiversity" of the UniNomade network of international researchers and activists during the months immediately following the first signals of the current financial and economic crisis. It constitutes the first organic and interdisciplinary attempt to analyze a crisis that is not merely financial in nature but implicates globalization and neoliberal capitalism.

There is nothing wrong with economics, Dean Baker contends, but economists routinely ignore their own principles when it comes to economic policy. What would policy look like if we took basic principles of mainstream economics seriously and applied them consistently? In the debate over regulation, for example, Baker--one of the few economists who predicted the meltdown of fall 2008--points out that ideological blinders have obscured the fact there is no “free market” to protect.

The Economic Causes and Consequences of Conflict
Edited by Gregory D. Hess

Guns and Butter examines the causes and consequences of war from a political economy perspective, taking as its premise that a consideration of the incentives and constraints faced by individuals and groups is paramount in understanding conflict decision making. The chapter authors—leading economists and political scientists—believe that this perspective offers deeper insights into war and peace choices than the standard state-centric approach. Their contributions offer both theoretical and empirical support for the political economy perspective on conflict.

The Malaise of the World's First Welfare State

What has happened to the German economic miracle? Rebuilding from the rubble and ruin of two world wars, Germany in the second half of the twentieth century recaptured its economic strength. High-quality German-made products ranging from precision tools to automobiles again conquered world markets, and the country experienced stratospheric growth and virtually full employment. Germany (or West Germany, until 1989) returned to its position as the economic powerhouse of Europe and became the world's third-largest economy after the United States and Japan.

Reform or Decline

Unless Europe takes action soon, its further economic and political decline is almost inevitable, economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi write in this provocative book. Without comprehensive reform, continental Western Europe's overprotected, overregulated economies will continue to slow—and its political influence will become negligible. This doesn't mean that Italy, Germany, France, and other now-prosperous countries will become poor; their standard of living will remain comfortable. But they will become largely irrelevant on the world scene.

From the New Economy to the War Economy

The Swiss-Italian economist Christian Marazzi is one of the core theorists of the Italian postfordist movement, along with Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno, and Bifo (Franco Berardi). But although his work is often cited by scholars (particularly by those in the field of "Cognitive Capitalism"), his writing has never appeared in English. This translation of his most recent work, Capital and Language (published in Italian in 2002), finally makes Marazzi's work available to an English-speaking audience.

Doubts about the ability of industrialized countries to continue to provide a sufficient level of retirement benefits to a growing number of retirees has fueled much recent debate and inspired a variety of recommendations for reform. Few major reforms, however, have actually been implemented. In The Political Future of Social Security in Aging Societies, Vincenzo Galasso argues that the success of any reform proposals depends on political factors rather than economic theory.

The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

The idea of America as politically polarized--that there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue states--has become a cliché. What commentators miss, however, is that increasing polarization in recent decades has been closely accompanied by fundamental social and economic changes--most notably, a parallel rise in income inequality.

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