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This book is the eagerly awaited successor to Robert Gilpin's 1987 The Political Economy of International Relations, the classic statement of the field of international political economy that continues to command the attention of students, researchers, and policymakers. The world economy and political system have changed dramatically since the 1987 book was published. The end of the Cold War has unleashed new economic and political forces, and new regionalisms have emerged. Computing power is increasingly an impetus to the world economy, and technological developments have changed and are changing almost every aspect of contemporary economic affairs. Gilpin's Global Political Economy considers each of these developments. Reflecting a lifetime of scholarship, it offers a masterful survey of the approaches that have been used to understand international economic relations and the problems faced in the new economy.

Gilpin focuses on the powerful economic, political, and technological forces that have transformed the world. He gives particular attention to economic globalization, its real and alleged implications for economic affairs, and the degree to which its nature, extent, and significance have been exaggerated and misunderstood. Moreover, he demonstrates that national policies and domestic economies remain the most critical determinants of economic affairs. The book also stresses the importance of economic regionalism, multinational corporations, and financial upheavals.


Gilpin integrates economic and political analysis in his discussion of "global political economy." He employs the conventional theory of international trade, insights from the theory of industrial organization, and endogenous growth theory. In addition, ideas from political science, history, and other disciplines are employed to enrich understanding of the new international economic order. This wide-ranging book is destined to become a landmark in the field.

After the end of World War II, the United States, by far the dominant economic and military power at that time, joined with the surviving capitalist democracies to create an unprecedented institutional framework. By the 1980s many contended that these institutions--the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund--were threatened by growing economic nationalism in the United States, as demonstrated by increased trade protection and growing budget deficits.

In this book, Robert Gilpin argues that American power had been essential for establishing these institutions, and waning American support threatened the basis of postwar cooperation and the great prosperity of the period. For Gilpin, a great power such as the United States is essential to fostering international cooperation. Exploring the relationship between politics and economics first highlighted by Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and other thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Gilpin demonstrated the close ties between politics and economics in international relations, outlining the key role played by the creative use of power in the support of an institutional framework that created a world economy.


Gilpin's exposition of the in.uence of politics on the international economy was a model of clarity, making the book the centerpiece of many courses in international political economy. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, when American support for international cooperation is once again in question, Gilpin's warnings about the risks of American unilateralism sound ever clearer.

Many individuals proclaim that global capitalism is here to stay. Unfettered markets, they argue, now drive the world, and all countries must adjust, no matter how painful this may be for some. Robert Gilpin, author of the widely acclaimed Political Economy of International Relations (Princeton, 1987), urges us, however, not to take an open and integrated global economy for granted. Rather, we must consider the political circumstances that have enabled global markets to function and the probability that these conditions will continue. Gilpin's new book amounts to a magisterial inquiry into all major aspects of the contemporary world political economy. Beginning with the 1989 end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of communism, it focuses on globalization and rapid technological change and covers a broad sweep of economic developments and political cultures. Gilpin demonstrates the fragility of a global and integrated economy and recommends what can be done to strengthen it.

The international community has another chance to solidify the global market economy that collapsed with the outbreak of World War I. Yet, writes Gilpin, the full implications of this historic development for international affairs are not yet clear. Will socialist economies make a successful transition to market-type economies? What role will a dynamic China play in the world economy? Will the United States continue to exercise leadership or gravitate toward self-centered policies? Gilpin explores such questions along with problems in the areas of trade liberalization, multinational corporations, and destabilizing financial flows. He also investigates the struggles of less developed countries and the spread of economic regionalism, particularly in Europe, North America, and Pacific Asia, which directly threatens an open world economy.


The author maintains that global capitalism and economic globalization have rested and must continue to rest on a secure political foundation. However, this foundation has eroded since the end of the Soviet threat. To ensure survival of the global economy, Gilpin concludes, the United States and other major powers must recommit themselves to working together to rebuild its weakened political foundations.

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