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Key Actors in the Management of Crises: International and Regional Organizations  

Eva-Karin Gardell and Bertjan Verbeek

In crisis-ridden times, when events like the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of terrorism, and climate change-induced crises are making constant headlines, states, businesses, and individuals alike look to international organizations (IOs) to help them weather the storm. How can the role of IOs be better understood in the context of crisis and crisis management? For a start, it requires a distinction between objective and subjective crisis perspectives in studying IOs. From an objective perspective, IOs are examined as unitary actors that have the aim of contributing to the stability of the international political system. On the other hand, in a subjectivistic approach, IOs’ actual crisis management is the focus. In this perspective, the emphasis is on an IO’s internal life, that is, its perceptions, bureau politics, and decision-making. In the exploration of these issues, IOs can no longer by studied as entities but have to be unwrapped into small groups and individuals, such as members of secretariats or member state’s top politicians. As borne out by theories developed by scholars of crisis management and foreign-policy analysis, centralization and cognitive bias are of special interest in the study of IOs. IOs’ crisis management has four crisis phases and tasks: sense-making, decision-making, meaning-making, and crisis termination. Finally, crises may prove a threat to, or an opportunity for, IOs. Transnational crises may usher in IOs’ foundation and flourishing, or they may contribute to IOs’ demise.

Article

Financial Turbulence and Crisis  

Caner Bakir, Sinan Akgunay, and Mehmet Kerem Coban

Why do financial turbulence and crises occur? What are different types of financial crises? Why do different countries experience financial crises, while some are more resilient? These are intriguing questions that relate to financial turbulence and crisis. The financial system is inherently susceptible to turbulence and crises: The world has witnessed several rounds of financial turbulence since the early 2000s. The 2008 global financial crisis and the worldwide financial turbulence that took place following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are examples. Periods of financial turbulence relate to heightened uncertainty and volatility in financial markets, and some of those periods can trigger financial crises. It is puzzling that although some countries can weather financial turbulence without falling into a financial crisis, others do not. This was observed during the global financial crisis. For example, financial turbulence triggered a financial crisis in some of the liberal market economies such as the United States and the United Kingdom. In contrast, Australia and Canada remained relatively resistant to financial turbulence. The existing literature tends to justify how and why a period of financial turbulence resulted in a financial crisis by looking at individual structural-, institutional-, or actor-level factors. In addition to the independent (separate) effects of these three principal explanatory factors, there is a need for detecting and analyzing their individual; interactive; and/or cumulative structural, institutional, and agential explanatory factors at work. Thus, it is crucial to explore some of the interrelated dynamics informing agency behavior which generate socioeconomic outcomes. Specifically, we call for a rigorous and refined analysis of how and why complementarities and enabling conditions that stem from interactions between structural and institutional factors influence actors’ agency and socioeconomic/political outcomes.

Article

The European Union Financial Crisis: A Critical Analysis  

Caner Bakir, Mehmet Kerem Coban, and Sinan Akgunay

The Global Financial Crisis, which originated in the United States, developed into a sovereign debt crisis in Europe, particularly the Eurozone. The Eurozone crisis was driven mainly by divergence in macroeconomic structures, fiscal indiscipline, and financial integration with fragmented regulatory and supervisory governance arrangements. The crisis also exposed flaws in the institutional design of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The EMU lacked mechanisms of effective crisis prevention and management and fiscal coordination, had a centralized monetary policy despite divergence in the macroeconomic structure and institutional setting across member states, and adopted a “light touch” approach to financial regulation. In response, crisis-hit countries implemented structural reforms and public spending cuts. European Union (EU) leaders attempted to address these deficiencies with institutional reforms at the national and regional level. Policy responses and institutional reforms have led to populist backlash with declining trust in regional and domestic politics and organizations, with voters favoring more inward-looking, nationalist political parties. Within this context, the Eurozone and EU face further challenges to maintain macroeconomic and financial stability and to ensure intraregional policy coordination.

Article

The Republic of the Congo: The Colonial Origins of Military Rule  

Joshua Shaw and Brett Carter

The Republic of Congo secured its independence from France in 1960. The French colonial apparatus bequeathed an ethnically divided society. Native southerners dominated the sprawling civil service and, owing to their demographic advantage, elected Congo’s first two presidents, themselves both southerners. Native northerners, otherwise marginalized economically and politically, dominated the military’s rank and file. This cleavage has animated Congolese politics since. In 1969, a clique of northern military officers toppled the southern-dominated Brazzaville government. Among its members was former paratrooper Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled Congo for all but 5 years since 1979. His tenure has been marked by massive corruption, gross economic mismanagement, and persistent human rights abuses. Accordingly, despite its status as one of Africa’s leading oil producers, Congolese citizens remain among the world’s poorest. To secure his political survival, Sassou Nguesso has used Congo’s longstanding ethnic cleavage as a tool: by directing state resources to northerners and using the northern-dominated military to repress southerners, who, after enduring nearly 50 years of northern rule, are profoundly frustrated.

Article

Climate Change Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean  

Matías Franchini

What is the role of the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the global governance of climate change? Are they contributing to the intensification of the climate crisis or mitigating it? To answer these questions, we must examine these countries’ participation in international climate negotiations, the path of their domestic climate policies, and the trajectory of their greenhouse gas emissions. The LAC region is a moderate conservative actor in climate governance because it is not a major emitter (8% of the world total) and its average level of per capita emissions is slightly lower than the world’s average. However, the diverse climate policy experiences in the LAC region have not been able to significantly reduce emissions or change the path of development toward a low emission future. In the international realm, the region has failed to meaningfully cooperate in the United Nations climate change negotiations or incorporate climate change into their regional integration initiatives. However, the patterns of diversity and fragmentation in terms of climate commitment are probably more visible than the common ones, as LAC countries vary widely in terms of volume and trajectory of emissions, climate political instruments at the domestic level, and cooperative efforts in the international arena. As the climate crisis deepens, LAC countries will face a monumental test to adapt to increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, enhanced climate variability, and extreme weather events. It is also imperative for the region’s countries to increase their level of climate commitment and implement stronger measures both nationally and internationally, finding deeper ways to cooperate in managing one of the major global governance problems facing humanity.

Article

Haiti: Deconstructing Military Entanglements in Politics  

Michel S. Laguerre

Since the independence of Haiti in 1804, the military has played a central role in the governance of the republic, often accessing the presidency through the recurrent phenomenon of the coup d’état, which serves as both a principal mechanism for the transmission of power from one government to another and for reinforcing the domination of the military over the civilian population. The 19th-century model of the coup d’état reflected the de facto decentralization of the military as it was carried out through rebellions concocted and headed by army battalions stationed in the rural provinces. The U.S. occupation (1915–1934), by locating or relocating the military elite, the most prominent military bases, the largest contingent of the military officers and rank and file in the capital city, contributed to the reengineering of a new national infrastructure that facilitates a new model of the coup d’état to emerge: One that germinates among the high command of the military; one that takes the form of a corporate intervention; one that is made possible because of the high command’s control over tactical military weapons, including the heavy military equipment located in the capital city; and one that is swift, thereby preventing any provincial military base from mounting a meaningful or successful military counter-coup.

Article

Military Expenditures and Economic Growth  

J. Paul Dunne and Nan Tian

The literature on military spending and growth has become extremely large and diverse and has reached no clear consensus. This lack of consensus should not be unexpected, because there are a number of issues that make the empirical analysis of the relationship difficult to undertake and make it difficult to identify the particular impact of military spending on growth. Some of these issues have had relatively little attention in the literature. The historical context can affect the military spending and growth relation, so there is no reason not to expect different results for different periods. There are various theoretical perspectives that can be used in any analysis and numerous channels through which military spending can affect growth, which means that studies can differ in how they specify the models. In estimating models, a range of econometric techniques have been used, which can affect the results. There also remain issues of identification that present problems for empirical analysis. The observed correlation between output and military expenditure is likely to be negative if the system is driven by strategic shocks and positive if it is driven by economic shocks. Improved military spending data and the existence of some shocks, such as the end of the Cold War, is helping in dealing with identification, but it still remains a concern. Overall, more recent studies show that, in general, it is much more likely that military spending has a negative effect on economic growth than was evident in the past. The issues involved in undertaking any empirical analysis on military spending and growth mean that the debate is likely to continue.

Article

Demobilization Challenges After Armed Conflict  

Margit Bussmann

Demobilization of ex-combatants is a major obstacle in the transition to a stable postconflict society. The combatants must be convinced to abandon the armed confrontation and hand over their weapons in light of security concerns and a lack of alternative means of income. The challenges to overcoming the commitment problem differ in terms of numbers of combatants who must be demobilized for conflicts that end in a decisive victory and conflicts that reach a military stalemate. Peace agreements can offer several solutions for overcoming the parties’ commitment problems, but often the implementation of the provisions is incomplete. Third parties can offer to monitor an agreement and provide security guarantees. International actors increasingly assist with demobilization and reintegration programs for former combatants and help to overcome security-related concerns and economic challenges. Another solution offered is military power-sharing arrangements and the integration of rebel fighters into the national military. These measures are intended to reduce the pool for potential recruitment for existing or new rebel groups. If ex-combatants are left without means of income to support themselves and their families, the risk is higher that they will remobilize and conflict will recur. Reintegration in the civilian labor market, however, is often difficult in the weak economies of war-affected countries.

Article

MERCOSUR and the Challenges of Regional Integration  

Mahrukh Doctor

In 1991, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) was launched with the aim of fostering regional integration among its four original members—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. MERCOSUR evolved from open regionalism to postliberal regionalism in the course of the first 15 years of the 21st century. The organization has faced several challenges since its inception: internal struggles that result from significant asymmetries between members as well as underlying deficits in the regionalism process and external difficulties in managing MERCOSUR’s relations within the hemisphere and beyond (such as relations with the European Union and China).

Article

Chile and the European Union  

Maria Garcia

Official relations between Chile and the European Union (formerly the European Communities) date back to 1967 when the two parties first opened diplomatic representations in Brussels and Santiago, respectively. As Chile transitioned to a democratic polity from 1990, the relationship deepened. Reflecting the EU’s support for democratization in Latin America, both parties formalized ties through the signing of a Cooperation Framework Agreement in 1991 and a Framework Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in 1996. The latter set Chile and the EU on the path to eventually negotiating an Association Agreement, including a preferential trade agreement (PTA), between 1999 and 2002. The Association Agreement has been in force since 2003, and in 2017 Chile and the EU decided to launch negotiations to modernize the preferential trade agreement part of the Association. The bilateral relationship, and its study, have been defined by three key areas: (1) political relations, (2) cooperation relations, and (2) economic relations. The political and cooperation ties between the two parties have, in turn, been determined by two strands of EU external policies: (1) the EU’s overarching approach toward relations with Latin America, and (2) the evolution of the EU’s development policy. Economic relations, for their part, cover rising trade flows and increasing investment (especially EU foreign direct investment outflows and stocks in Chile). Chile’s attractiveness, despite its relatively small economy and population, derives from its specific political economy. Chile’s painful market reforms under the Pinochet regime set it on a path of greater economic openness than its neighbours. Democratic governments since 1990 have continued policies of trade liberalization, low tariffs, and active engagement in the creation of a dense network of global preferential trade agreements with Chile at its center as a gateway to Latin America. This has helped to diversify Chilean trade relations away from overreliance on the EU or the United States, and has made Chile an attractive target for foreign investment. The trade agreement part of the Association Agreement ushered in deeper economic ties, and a body of scholarly analyses of the agreement and its impacts has slowly emerged. Relations with Chile have formed part of the EU’s broader strategy toward Latin America, rather than independent EU strategy. Initial steps toward an Association Agreement were within the context of negotiations for an Association Agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR (the Common Market of the South). Analysis of the EU–Chile relationship has, as a result, tended to be sparse and to be included as a subsection in studies of broader EU–Latin America relations, and especially EU–MERCOSUR relations. Nevertheless, the relationship represents a positive example of successful engagement with a relatively like-minded partner in a mature association, and demonstrates the extent of and possibilities for EU foreign policy engagement. Moreover, the relationship has served as a testing ground for new types of projects and collaborations and for mutual learning, such as the parties’ joint projects on increasing gender representation in politics, or the inclusion of gender clauses, for the first time in an EU preferential trade agreement, in the modernization of the EU–Chile agreement.