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Political Economy

Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America

Our morning cups of coffee connect us to a global industry and an export crisis in the tropics that is destroying livelihoods, undermining the cohesion of families and communities, and threatening ecosystems. Confronting the Coffee Crisis explores small-scale farming, the political economy of the global coffee industry, and initiatives that claim to promote more sustainable rural development in coffee-producing communities.

Doubts about the ability of industrialized countries to continue to provide a sufficient level of retirement benefits to a growing number of retirees has fueled much recent debate and inspired a variety of recommendations for reform. Few major reforms, however, have actually been implemented. In The Political Future of Social Security in Aging Societies, Vincenzo Galasso argues that the success of any reform proposals depends on political factors rather than economic theory.

Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How It Will Rise Again

While we were waiting for the Internet to make us rich—back when we thought all we had to do was to buy lottery tickets called dotcom shares—we missed the real story of the information economy. That story, says Bruce Abramson in Digital Phoenix, took place at the intersection of technology, law, and economics. It unfolded through Microsoft's manipulation of software markets, through open source projects like Linux, and through the file-sharing adventures that Napster enabled.

Reform or Decline

Unless Europe takes action soon, its further economic and political decline is almost inevitable, economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi write in this provocative book. Without comprehensive reform, continental Western Europe's overprotected, overregulated economies will continue to slow—and its political influence will become negligible. This doesn't mean that Italy, Germany, France, and other now-prosperous countries will become poor; their standard of living will remain comfortable. But they will become largely irrelevant on the world scene.

The NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics brings together leading American and European economists to discuss a broad range of current issues in global macroeconomics. An international companion to the more American-focused NBER Macroeconomics Annual, this particular volume offers cutting-edge research on monetary and fiscal policy responses to macroeconomic fluctuations, with special emphasis on tailoring a single monetary policy for the diverse economies that make up the European Monetary Union.

Interests, Ideas, and Institutions in Historical Perspective

The repeal of Britain's Corn Laws in 1846—one of the most important economic policy decisions of the nineteenth century—has long intrigued and puzzled political scientists, historians, and economists. Why would a Conservative prime minister act against his own party's interests?

The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

The idea of America as politically polarized—that there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue states—has become a clich√©. What commentators miss, however, is that increasing polarization in recent decades has been closely accompanied by fundamental social and economic changes—most notably, a parallel rise in income inequality.

Analysis and Evidence

The variety of constitutional designs found in democratic governments has important effects on policy choices and outcomes. That is the conclusion reached in Democratic Constitutional Design and Public Policy, in which the constitutional procedures and constraints through which laws and public policies are adopted—election laws, the general architecture of government, the legal system, and methods for amendment and reform—are evaluated for their political and economic effects.

The United States's post-World War II emphasis on activist fiscal policy for short-term economic stabilization was called into question in the 1960s, and by the late 1980s was superseded by the view that fiscal policy should focus on long-run structural concerns. For the past two decades both public policy and economic research emphasized monetary policy as a stabilization tool. But there remain issues in American macroeconomic policy having to do with budget deficits, present and projected, as well as a recent revival of interest in fiscal policy as a stabilization tool.

A country's stance on international trade is an important component of its economic welfare. Yet relatively little theoretical attention has been paid to developing accurate methods to assess trade policies, leaving practitioners and policy makers with ad hoc solutions that lack theoretical foundation. In this book, James Anderson and Peter Neary present a new approach to gauging trade restrictiveness. Extending the standard theory of index numbers that apply to prices, output, or productivity, Anderson and Neary develop index numbers that apply directly to policy variables.