The 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and subsequent European Debt Crisis had wide-sweeping consequences for global economic and political stability. Yet while these twin crises have prompted soul searching within the economics profession, international political economy (IPE) has been relatively ineffective in accounting for variation in crisis exposure across the developed world. The GFC and European Debt Crisis present the opportunity to link IPE and comparative political economy (CPE) together in the study of international economic and financial turmoil. While the GFC was prompted by the inter-connectedness of global financial markets, its instigators were largely domestic in nature and were reflective of negative externalities that stemmed from unsustainable national policies, especially those related to financial regulation and household debt accumulation. Many in IPE take an “outward looking in” approach to the examination of international economic developments and domestic politics; analysis rests on how the former impacts the latter. The GFC and European Debt Crisis, however, demonstrate the importance of a (CPE-based) “inward looking out” approach, analyzing how unique policy and political features (and failures) of individual nation states can unleash economic and financial instability at the global level amidst deepened economic and financial integration. IPE not only needs to grant greater attention to variation in domestic politics and policies in a time of closely integrated financial markets, but also should acknowledge the impact of a wider array of actors beyond banks and financial institutions (specifically more domestically rooted actors like households) on cross-national variation in the consumption of foreign credit.
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.
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.
Scholars of international political economy in the 1970s explored the relationship among a dominant power, leadership, and openness. The discussion soon centered on the concept of hegemony, meaning a situation in which a single state exercises leadership in creating and maintaining the fundamental rules of the international system. The scholarly arguments that ensued focused on the rationale for, and durability of, hegemony, and seemed relevant because of a shared assumption that U.S. dominance, so strong during the quarter-century after World War II, was declining. However, the debate was premised on a shared but incorrect empirical perception that American hegemony was declining. When similar questions arose again at the end of the 20th century, the terminology used was less that of hegemony than of unipolarity and hierarchy, and the key question was whether exercising continuing leadership would be so costly to the hegemon that its decline would be generated by its leadership. The issues of hegemony raised in this literature have taken on renewed relevance with the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.