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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Affairs

Government, Geography, and Growth

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The True Drivers of Economic Development

According to the economist Daron Acemoglu and the political scientist James Robinson, economic development hinges on a single factor: a country’s political institutions. More specifically, as they explain in their new book, Why Nations Fail, it depends on the existence of “inclusive” political institutions, defined as pluralistic systems that protect individual rights. These, in turn, give rise to inclusive economic institutions, which secure private property and encourage entrepreneurship. The long-term result is higher incomes and improved human welfare.

What Acemoglu and Robinson call “extractive” political institutions, in contrast, place power in the hands of a few and beget extractive economic institutions, which feature unfair regulations and high barriers to entry into markets. Designed to enrich a small elite, these institutions inhibit economic progress for everyone else. The broad hypothesis of Why Nations Fail is that governments that protect property rights and represent their people preside over economic development, whereas those that do not suffer from economies that stagnate or decline. Although “most social scientists shun monocausal, simple, and broadly applicable theories,” Acemoglu and Robinson write, they themselves have chosen just such a “simple theory and used it to explain the main contours of economic and political development around the world since the Neolithic Revolution.” Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Theophyle

October 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Foreign Affairs: The Turkish Paradox

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By: Michael J. Koplow and Steven A. Cook

The Halki seminary, founded in 1844 as a center of learning for the Orthodox Eastern Church, was for decades a symbol of religious toleration and minority rights in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. But in 1971, Ankara closed the seminary when the constitutional court, dominated by adherents of Kemalism, the secular ideology of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, ruled that only the army was allowed to run nonstate-supervised private colleges. So in March, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Halki seminary would be restored and reopened, it seemed that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the country’s ruling faction since 2002, was furthering its reformist agenda of making Turkey a more open society by expanding personal, religious, and economic freedoms. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

Interdependency Theory (2)

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China, India, and the West

By Simon Tay


Edward Steinfeld’s book Playing Our Game: Why China’s Rise Doesn’t Threaten the West offers a different perspective on China’s rise. The changes in China’s economic and political systems are not contradictory, Steinfeld argues, but are more or less in sync. This, he argues, is because of “institutional outsourcing” from the global system: globalization brings with it commercial discipline and requires states to institute rules in order to foster change and anchor progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

September 10, 2010 at 9:42 am

Interdependency Theory (1)

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China, India, and the West

By Simon Tay

The Chinese and Indian economies often elicit breathless admiration from commentators. In fact, domestic deficiencies and regional tensions mean that the rise of China and India is hardly assured.

SIMON TAY is Chair of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and the author of Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide From America.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the economies of North America and Europe remain fragile while those of Asia continue to grow. This is especially true in the cases of China and India, which both boast near double-digit rates of growth and have therefore inspired confidence around the region. But too many commentators discuss China and India with breathless admiration — extrapolating, for example, that growth will continue at a breakneck pace for decades. In doing so, they treat emerging economies as if they were already world powers, echoing the hubris that preceded the Asian currency crisis of 1997-98. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

September 8, 2010 at 10:09 am