- Paperback: 440 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (15 March 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 069108677X
- ISBN-13: 978-0691086774
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 581 g
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Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order (ISE) Paperback – 15 Mar 2001
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From the Back Cover
"Robert Gilpin, the dean of American students of international political economy, has provided us with a masterful guide to the state of the world economy and how it can be explained. Current developments are placed in historical and theoretical perspective. In a book that is deeply thought as well as deeply researched and carefully argued, Gilpin has produced a landmark study."--Robert Jervis, Columbia University
"Global Political Economy undertakes a comprehensive survey of major aspects of the world political economy from the perspective of a leading 'realist' political scientist. Robert Gilpin emphasizes the continuing importance of the state and the great impact of variations in state structure and policy around the world. His book is an impressive attempt to synthesize economic and political analysis to understand the forces affecting globalization, state policy, and the results of their interaction for economic development and international trade, investment, and finance."--Robert O. Keohane, Duke University
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Gilpin begins with a rather pessimistic assessment of his colleagues: economists, he says, have a suite of highly developed analytical methods and theoretical models that are seldom applicable. Political scientists, on the other hand, rely essentially on intuition that is seldom informed by theory. Political economy, of course, is an attempt to move past these limitations. Political economists tend to study powerful economic actors who can influence prices. Realists, like Gilpin, focus especially on state actors while recognizing the increasing influence of global investors, multinational corporations, and NGOs. Political economists would take particular note that economies are embedded in social and political systems where the purposes of economic activity are decided. One society may use its wealth to build a fairly egalitarian welfare state; another might use it to develop military might, and a third might concentrate wealth in the hands of a small elite.
One of the striking features of the international economy is that "free trade has historically been the exception and protection the rule," even though the benefits of free trade have persuasive theoretical and empirical support. Trade liberalization increases domestic competition, thus increasing efficiency and consumer choice. It increases both domestic and global wealth through the gains from specialization, and it encourages the diffusion of new technology throughout the world. Gilpin cites several reasons why, in the light of these benefits, protectionist ideologies usually hold sway. First, while the principle of comparative advantage tells us that both parties to an exchange will benefit, one party may benefit more than the other, and nations can and do worry about relative benefits. Second, economists support the use of protection for infant industries that can later become competitive. Unfortunately, there is no way other than trial and error to identify these future winners, and temporary protection often becomes permanent. Third, trade benefits do not accrue to all members of a society equally. Fourth, trade creates interdependencies between nations, while nations try to preserve their autonomy and freedom of action.
Gilpin examines the problem of uneven development and, in particular, asks what role the state might play in accelerating development. After an extended discussion of the debate over the "development state," Gilpin concludes that states have an important role to play. Development requires a transformation of society, and states can facilitate that transformation by investing in the health and education of their citizens, socializing them, and providing public goods like physical infrastructure and economic institutions. There is also evidence that government investment in research and development has positive effects for domestic industry.
Gilpin also describes the "machinery" of the international monetary and finance system in detail. All but the most expert of readers will find some new information here.
I have to say that I enjoyed this book tremendously. Gilpin has an exciting story to tell, and he writes clearly, with a degree of elegance of expression and restraint.
The author does an excellent job of surveying recent work in economics without resorting to jargon. There are outstanding treatments of topics like the continued relevance of Heckscher-Ohlin trade theory, strategic trade, endogenous growth theory, and the new economic geography. The discussion of the globalization of international finance in Chapter 10 emphasizes the need to take into account the "increased interdependence of trade, monetary, and other aspects of the international economy" that results from "[m]ovement toward a single, globally integrated market for corporation ownership" (277). Chapter 11 provides a state-of-the-art discussion of the role of multinational corporations in the world economy. Chapter 12 does a fine job of discussing the likely future of theories of the developmental state in light of the Asian Crises of the late 1990s. The final chapter lays out three major scenarios for governance of the world economy, informed as always by the author's realist views.
This book is long and dense. There are few wasted or unnecessary words. It is not easy to read. However, it could be used for graduate seminars or upper-division undergraduate courses in international political economy in conjunction with texts that are more empirical or descriptive in their treatment of international political economy.
Global Political Economy is an excellent book. It represents a major and successful updating of The Political Economy of International Relations. Any person interested in international political economy can profit from reading it.