International Political Economy

Course Description

The world has become a highly interdependent place. A financial crisis in Singapore will be felt in New York. A surplus of Ukranian wheat will affect a Nebraska farmer. If the U.S. government mortgage loan institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go bankrupt, the Chinese government will lose billions of dollars. How does it all fit together? How does the global economy work? Is global capitalism functioning effectively to bring peace and prosperity to more of the world's people? Or have we simply created and perpetuated a two-tier system of rich and poor? What policies do we want the government to pursue? How do we want corporations to behave?

In this course we will try to decipher and understand the ins and outs of the global economy. In order to do this, we will study the intellectual and theoretical underpinnings of international economics, examine some history of how certain international economic systems evolved, and look at various elements of and issues surrounding the global economy.

The topics we will endeavor to consider are:
- The idea of international trade and the role of the government
- The problems of outsourcing and economic development
- The workings and function of the international financial system
- The role of exchange rates
- How do we measure a successful economy?
- The role of multinational corporations
- How do we manage globalization?

We will look at certain economic crises as a window into these broad topics: the depression of the 1930s; the oil crisis and "stagflation" of the 1970s; the 1994 Mexican debt crisis; the Asian banking crisis of the late 90s; and the current mortgage crisis.

Any of these (and many other) topics will be excellent vehicles for your 12th grade research paper. Hopefully with some of the theoretical grounding you get in the first part of the semester you will be able to make better sense of the economic issue you choose to tackle for your paper.

Classes will be run on a discussion model. There will be assigned readings, short essays and papers, a few economics problem sets, and then your final research paper.

So while economics is often called "the dismal science", the study of the global economy can be far from dismal. If you want to help solve the world's problems, it helps to understand them first. We'll do our best to make that happen.

Sample PBATs: 
The Causes of the Great Depression
The Role of United Fruit in Latin America
The Japanese Recession of the 1990s