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Building a Normative Order in the South China Sea

Evolving Disputes, Expanding Options

Edited by Truong T. Tran, John B. Welfield and Thuy T. Le

The South China Sea, where a number of great powers and regional players contend for influence, has emerged as one of the most potentially explosive regions in the world today. What can be done to reduce the possibility of conflict, solve the outstanding territorial problems, and harness the potential of the sea to promote regional development, environmental sustainability and security? This book, with contributions from leading authorities in China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, Singapore and the United States, seeks to illuminate these questions.
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The Ethics of Competition

How a Competitive Society is Good for All

Christoph Lütge

The concept of competition is frequently regarded with ambivalence. While its champions wholeheartedly endorse it for reasons of efficiency, critics believe competition undermines ethics. They denounce competitive thinking, call for modesty in profit-making, and rail against economisation. However, Christoph Lütge argues convincingly that intensified competition can work in favour of ethical goals, and that many criticisms of competition stem from an inadequate understanding of how modern societies and economies function. The author illustrates his view with examples from ecology, healthcare and education, and concludes with a call for more entrepreneurial spirit.
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John B. Welfield and Le Thuy Trang

Interstate conflict, in the view of one-third of the global decision-makers and experts assembled to compile the World Economic Forum 2015 Global Risks Report, was the most probable serious danger facing the East Asia-Pacific region over the coming decade.1 A Pew Research Center global opinion poll conducted in the spring of 2014 found that people in eight of the 11 Asian countries surveyed expressed fears about possible military conflict over territorial disputes involving the People’s Republic of China and its neighbors. In China itself, more than six in every ten citizens expressed similar concerns. Two-thirds of Americans in 2014 also feared that intensifying territorial disputes between China and its neighbors could spark an armed conflict.2 Although the World Economic Forum 2017 Global Risks Report considered such conflict as a decreasing risk in terms of likelihood and impact,3 majorities in China, Japan and several other East Asian nations remained concerned about territorial tensions and the strategic drama being played out between the United States and China on land and at sea across the region had begun to fuel fears that the “Pacific century” might be shattered by a new Pacific war.4 For better or for worse, Southeast Asia, the region which has given birth to the most vigorous efforts to construct a regional security architecture designed to ensure long-term peace and stability in Asia and the wider Pacific Basin, is today confronted by a series of intractable problems that may well constitute the greatest tests it has faced since the end of the Cold War. Much has been said about the significance of the South China Sea for the security and development of the Indo-Pacific. This sea offers the shortest route from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. About half of the world’s commerce, half of global liquefied natural gas and a third of global crude oil transit through this body of water each year.5 Two-fifths of the world’s tuna are born in the South China Sea, contributing to a multibillion-dollar fisheries industry.6 These statistics, oft-cited, are just a few indicators of the South China Sea’s importance to the region and the world at large. A durable regional security system that can deliver lasting stability and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific cannot be constructed in the absence of a smoothly functioning regional maritime order in this critical area. Yet this body of water, blessed with so many valuable resources and crisscrossed by a network of vital sea-lanes, has become the home to some of the most intractable territorial disputes in Asia and a stage for intensifying great power strategic competition. The longstanding territorial and maritime disputes simmering in the South China Sea and the machinations of great powers have been slowing down the momentum for regional cooperation and frustrating attempts to forge a robust and mutually beneficial security architecture. There is also another troubling dimension of very great significance. While the tempo of regional cooperation has slackened, the rate at which the South China Sea marine environment is deteriorating has accelerated. Forty percent of the South China Sea’s fish stocks have already been exhausted and, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, most fish resources in the western part of the South China Sea have been exploited or overexploited.7 Meanwhile, 70 percent of the South China Sea’s coral reefs are reported to be in poor or only fair condition.8 Put simply, while the challenges to the South China Sea marine environment are growing, the capacity of regional mechanisms to effectively address those challenges has been undermined or severely constrained.

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Gerald A. Epstein

Many observers thought that the financial crisis of 2007–08 would be a watershed moment in global finance. They believed the crisis would demonstrate, once and for all, the instability and inefficiency of this hyper-speculative global financial system, and finally bring an end to the destructive “neoliberal moment” and its “Washington Consensus” dictates in domestic and global economic policy (see, for example, Blanchard, Dell’Ariccia and Mauro, 2010). But, something surprising happened to “neoliberal financialization” on the way to the “dustbin of history”: it escaped. Financial deregulation and “neoliberal” populism in finance are in the ascendant in the United States and elsewhere, and the bankers are laughing, well. . .all the way to the bank.1 To be sure, there are important cracks in the old free market consensus on international financial issues. These cracks are leading to what Ilene Grabel (Chapter 5, in this volume) calls “productive incoherence” in theory and practice, which is leading to important opportunities for policy change in some areas. But, in many other areas, the old theories and practices are being resurrected after near-death experiences in the period following the crisis.

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Edited by Gerald A. Epstein

The essays in this book describe and analyze the current contours of the international financial system, covering both developed and developing countries, and focusing on the ways in which the current international financial system structures, and is affected by, profound inequalities in the international system. This keen analysis of key topics in international finance takes a heterodox perspective, with focus on the role of inequalities in power in shaping the structure and outcomes in the international sphere.
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Edited by Gerald A. Epstein

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Edited by Andreas Nölke and Christian May

Over the past few decades, corporations have been neglected in studies of international political economy (IPE). Seeking to demystify them, what they are, how they behave and their goals and constraints, this Handbook introduces the corporation as a unit of analysis for students of IPE. Providing critical discussion of their global and domestic power, and highlighting the ways in which corporations interact with each other and with their socio-political environment, this Handbook presents a thorough and up-to-date overview of the main debates around the role of corporations in the global political economy.
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Colin Turner

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Regional Infrastructure Systems

The Political Economy of Regional Infrastructure

Colin Turner

As the international economy globalises, there is a need for national infrastructure systems to adapt to form a global infrastructure system. This network of networks aids mobility between national systems as a means of supporting their territorial needs and preferences. This reflects a strategic approach to state infrastructuring as nations seek to utilise these physical systems to support and enhance their territoriality. Providing a thorough examination through the lens of economic infrastructure, the book addresses the forces of integration and fragmentation in global networks.