This chapter looks into the mystery as to why many people think that capitalism is the only viable economic system. Globalisation has significantly transformed the economic lives of people, and this is visible on an everyday level. Beyond the process of production, capitalism also goes hand in hand with social transformations such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter campaign. Since capitalism is a deeply political system with far-reaching effects on the international system, the chapter explores the myth that capitalism operates as a system of free enterprise independent of state involvement. Additionally, it considers the importance of reflecting on new ways of thinking about capitalism and how a world after capitalism might look.
This concluding chapter summarizes the key aspects of international political economy (IPE). IPE can be described as the study of global systems of production, exchange, and distribution, with a view to understanding what these mean for the basic values of wealth, security, freedom, and justice. This book connects this academic field and its animating questions to everyday life. Alongside states and markets, it looks at households as important sites of power. Alongside production, exchange, and distribution, it also considers the contested economic sphere of consumption. Using the I-PEEL approach, the book takes everyday objects and economic practices as both entry points into IPE and things to be studied in themselves. The chapter then demonstrates the process of creating I-PEEL tiles, highlighting the merits of the I-PEEL approach in studying global capitalism.
11. Globalization’s Impact on States
This chapter discusses globalization's impact on states. There is no topic more controversial in the field of global political economy than the impact of globalization on the accountability, autonomy, capacity, and sovereignty of the nation state; and the controversy has only intensified since the onset of the global financial crisis. Arguably, the democratic character of governance in contemporary societies is at stake in such debates. The chapter reviews the extensive controversy that surrounds such questions, focusing attention on the principal mechanisms in and through which globalization is seen to impact upon the nation state and the empirical evidence that might either substantiate or question the existence of such mechanisms. It also provides a detailed assessment of the case for and against the globalization thesis, examining the extent to which global economic integration might be seen to restrict the parameters of domestic political autonomy. Moreover, the chapter differentiates between the politics of globalization and the globalization of politics. It concludes by considering the complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship between globalization, democracy, and the nation state.
28. Global trade and global finance
This chapter explores important issues in the conduct of global trade and global finance. In particular, it looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the experience of global trade and global finance in recent years. It asks why the global economy is so good at allowing some people to own untold riches while many others have too little money to meet basic subsistence needs, and whether the world would be better or worse off without the institutions of global economic governance. After discussing the globalization of trade and finance, the chapter considers the regulation of global trade and global finance. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the Covid-19 vaccination programme and global economic recovery and another looking at US President Joe Biden's proposed global minimum corporate tax rate.
7. Global economic and trade governance
This chapter addresses the intersection of international law and international politics as it relates to global trade. To study global economic governance is to study international law, international relations, and international political economy (IPE) all at once. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to IPE, a discipline which seeks to understand the workings of the global economy in its political context. It examines the relationship between economic globalization and state sovereignty, before turning to the construction of the postwar global economic order, with a focus on the Bretton Woods institutions. The postwar global economic order has often been described as ‘liberal’ by virtue of its underlying assumptions and the ideological convictions of its framers. Importantly, the postwar liberal order was built by, and for, the developed countries of the Global North-a fact that has informed critiques emanating from the developing countries of the Global South. The chapter then assesses global trade governance, analysing the structure, powers, and role of the World Trade Organization.
15. State power and geopolitics
This chapter covers three dimensions in answering questions about the role of state power and geopolitics in the Global Political Economy (GPE). The first answer focuses on how changes in the global economy affect the nature and the effectiveness of the economic instruments available to governments as they pursue their foreign policy goals. The second cluster of answers focuses on the ways in which politics and economics are bound together in the construction and evolution of economic institutions and economic orders. The third cluster of answers accepts the need to think in terms of power operating within economic orders but this time with the causal arrow flowing from politics into the economy. Ultimately, the dynamics of the international political system are what drive the foreign economic policies of governments, shape the states and societies making up the global system, and help explain the character and operation of the global economy.
10. The Logics of Economic Globalization
This chapter provides a systematic account of the causes of economic globalization. Within the global political economy (GPE) literature, economic globalization tends to be more precisely specified as ‘the emergence and operation of a single, worldwide economy’. This assists its measurement by reference to the intensity, extensity, and velocity of worldwide economic flows and interconnectedness, from trade, through production and finance, migration to information and data. Understood as a historical process, the concept of economic globalization also infers an evolving transformation or evolution in the organization and operation of the world economy. The chapter then reviews the principal theories of economic globalization, drawing upon the GPE literature. It develops a multi-theoretic account of economic globalization which captures its structural, conjunctural, and contingent causal factors. The chapter also demonstrates how this multi-theoretic framework is relevant to understanding the current crisis of economic globalization. It considers whether, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, this crisis is the precursor to a period of accelerating deglobalization.
5. The economic rise of a superpower: from Washington to Trump
This chapter focuses on the American political economy from the colonial period to Donald Trump. In particular, it examines how the United States emerged from being a predominantly agricultural country to the wealthiest economic power in the world. The chapter first considers America’s economic rise before independence before discussing the role played by economic factors in sparking war between Great Britain and American colonists. It then looks at America’s dramatic economic growth between formal independence and World War I, as well as through the post-war period. It also analyses the American political economy under Bill Clinton and how his economic policies — and those of his successor George W. Bush — contributed to the great economic crash of 2008. It also explores the major economic reasons that accounted for Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election and concludes with an overview of how the American economy has been impacted by globalization.
4. Globalization and neoliberalism
This chapter evaluates the contested concepts of globalization and neoliberalism, and looks at their role in Global Political Economy (GPE). There are significant debates about the political salience of globalization, with hyperglobalists, sceptics, and transformationalists disagreeing on its implications for the power of the state. Scholars also disagree about when the era of globalization began. Meanwhile, neoliberalism is a set of economic ideas and policies built upon a belief in the ‘free market’ as an unquestionable value in political and economic life. Neoliberal globalization has increased living standards in many parts of the world while also intensifying inequality along the lines of class, race, and gender. At the heart of debates about neoliberalism and globalization are three core puzzles: whether they are primarily depoliticizing or repoliticizing strategies; whether they are best understood by looking at global-level processes or at changes in everyday life; and whether their power is primarily material or ideational.
1. The Study of Global Political Economy
This chapter provides an overview of the current state of the world economy. The contemporary international economic system is more closely integrated than in any previous era. The global financial crisis and its aftermath provide a clear illustration of the relationship between trade, finance, international institutions, and the difficulties that governments face in coping with the problems generated by complex interdependence. The chapter then traces how the world economy evolved to reach its present state. Before 1945, the spectacular increase in economic integration that had occurred over the previous century was not accompanied by institutionalized governmental collaboration on economic matters. The end of the Second World War marked a significant disjunction: global economic institutions were created, the transnational corporation emerged as a major actor in international economic relations, and patterns of international trade began to change markedly from the traditional North–South exchange of manufactures for raw materials. Since the emergence of global political economy (GPE) as a major subfield of the study of international relations in the early 1970s, GPE scholars have generated an enormous literature that has employed a wide variety of theories and methods. Most introductions to the study of GPE have divided the theoretical approaches to the subject into three categories: liberalism, nationalism, and Marxism.
14. The Political Economy of the Environment
This chapter assesses the global political economy of the environment. The growth of the world economy is transforming the Earth's environment. Nothing is particularly controversial about this statement. Yet, sharp disagreements arise over the nature of this transformation. Is the globalization of capitalism a force of progress and environmental solutions? Or is it a cause of the current global environmental crisis? The chapter addresses these questions by examining the debates around some of the most contentious issues at the core of economic globalization and the environment: economic growth, production, and consumption; trade; and transnational investment. It begins with a glance at the general arguments about how the global political economy affects the global environment. The chapter then traces the history of global environmentalism — in particular, the emergence of international environmental institutions with the norm of sustainable development. It also evaluates the effectiveness of North–South environmental financing and international environmental regimes.
27. Global trade and global finance
This chapter explores important issues in the conduct of global trade and global finance. It asks why the global economy is so good at allowing some people to own untold riches while many others have too little money to meet basic subsistence needs, and whether the world would be better or worse off without the institutions of global economic governance. After discussing the globalization of trade and finance, the chapter considers the regulation of global trade and global finance. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the ongoing trade war between the US and China and the other with the effect of tax havens on overseas aid budgets. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that addresses the question of how far the institutions of global economic governance currently go to work specifically to the benefit of developing countries.
9. Political Economy: National and Global Perspectives
This chapter examines the field of political economy from a historical, comparative, and international perspective, focusing on how ideas, practices, and institutions develop and interact over place and time. It first provides an overview of political economy as a field of study before discussing some important theories such as Marxism, liberalism, and economic nationalism. It then considers key issues such as the interaction of states and markets and the North–South divide, along with Karl Marx's critique of international political economy (IPE). It also explores the post-war international economic order and the twin phenomena of globalization and regionalization in the post-Cold War era before concluding with an analysis of the ‘boom and bust’ episodes in the global capitalist economy such as the global financial crisis of 2008.
18. Global economy
Peter Gowan and Doug Stokes
This chapter examines some of the central debates on how we should understand the United States’ efforts to reshape international economic relations since the 1940s. It first considers debates on the sources and mechanisms of American economic strategy before turning to debates about the substance of American efforts to shape the global economy. It approaches the debates about the substance of U.S. foreign economic policy since 1945 by classifying varying perspectives on this question in three alternative images. The first such image is that of America as the promoter of a cooperative, multilateral order in international economics. The second image is that of an American economic nationalism and the third is that of an American empire. The chapter goes on to analyse the global financial crisis and concludes with an overview of some of the main current debates about the strength of American capitalism in the world economy.
9. The European Union and the Global Political Economy
This chapter examines the position of the European Union (EU) in the global political economy (GPE). It also highlights key dimensions of change and development, and evaluates the EU’s impact on the operation of the contemporary GPE. It does this by examining key ideas in international political economy (IPE), by relating these to the growth of the EU, and by assessing the EU’s role in the GPE in three areas: European integration itself, the EU’s engagement in the GPE, and the EU’s claims to be a major economic power. The final part of the chapter brings these together with an analysis of global economic governance—in particular, the EU’s role in the financial, multilateral state system with its principles of global governance, and pays some attention to recent crises (such as the Covid-19 pandemic) and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
3. Cooperation and Conflict in the Global Political Economy
Vinod K. Aggarwal and Cédric Dupont
This chapter discusses the problems of collaboration and coordination in the global political economy. It first identifies situations that might require states to work with each other to achieve a desired outcome. It then turns to a focus on basic game theory as an analytical tool to tackle the nature of collaboration and coordination efforts. International cooperation can help to address three typical problems associated with the process of global economic integration: a temptation to free ride, an inhibiting fear, and a need to find meeting points in situations where collaboration will produce differing costs and benefits to governments. Different types of problems associated with the process of global integration call for different solutions to address these three typical problems, ranging from the provision of binding rules to facilitating mechanisms. A country's need for international cooperation depends on its sociopolitical structure as well as on the structure and flexibility of its economy. Finally, the chapter considers how institutions might play a role in enhancing the prospects for cooperative behaviour.
11. The European Union and the Global Political Economy
This chapter examines the position of the European Union in the global political economy (GPE). It also considers key dimensions of change and development as well as the EU's impact on the operation of the contemporary GPE. To this end, the chapter discusses central ideas in international political economy and relates these to the growth of the EU. Furthermore, it analyses the EU's role in the GPE in three areas: European integration, the EU's engagement in the GPE, and the EU's claims to be a major economic power. It concludes with an assessment of global economic governance, focusing in particular on the EU's role in the financial, economic, and sovereign debt crises.
10. Global Political Economy
This chapter offers an overview of the field of Global Political Economy (GPE)—also known as International Political Economy (IPE). It builds on themes introduced in previous chapters, including connections with theories of global politics. These are discussed from a historical perspective to enable a better appreciation of how ideas, practices, and institutions develop and interact over time. These theories arose substantially within a European context, although the extent to which these may be applied uncritically to issues of political economy in all parts of the globe must be questioned. Significant issues for GPE include trade, labour, the interaction of states and markets, the nexus between wealth and power, and the problems of development and underdevelopment in the global economy, taking particular account of the North–South gap. The chapter then discusses the twin phenomena of globalization and regionalization and the way in which these are shaping the global economy and challenging the traditional role of the state. An underlying theme of the chapter is the link between economic and political power.
18. The Europeanization of National Economies?
Vivien A. Schmidt
This chapter examines the impact of Europeanization upon the national economies of European Union member states. It considers how successful the EU has been in promoting its goal of building a single European economy out of the diverse national economies of its member states; how much convergence has occurred among EU member states, and how much divergence remains; and what impact the economic crisis beginning in 2008 has had on the EU and its member states. To answer these questions, the chapter traces the development of Europe’s national economies from the post-war period until today. It also analyses the impact of globalization and Europeanization on post-war varieties of capitalism before concluding with reflections on future patterns of political economic development in the EU in light of the economic crisis.
12. Global Growth, Inequality, and Poverty:
Power and Evidence in Global ‘Best Practice’ Economic Policy
Robert Hunter Wade
This chapter argues that economists have oversold the virtues of globalization, displaying confidence in derived policy prescriptions well beyond the evidence. The most spectacular recent demonstration of hubris is the failure of almost the whole of the mainstream economics profession in the few years before 2007–8 to forecast a major recession. The chapter then outlines the neo-liberal world view and its application in the form of the development recipe known as the Washington Consensus. Since the 1980s, the Western economic policy ‘establishment’ has espoused a doctrine of ‘best economic policy’ for the world which says, put too simply, that ‘more market and less state’ should be the direction of travel for developed and developing countries. This overarching neo-liberal ideology embraces globalization as a major component, relating to the nature of integration into the international economy. The chapter then looks at trends in world income distribution and poverty, bearing in mind the optimistic claims of the globalization argument.