Political Economics Book

Political Economics
by Torsten Persson, Guido Enrico Tabellini

What determines the size and form of redistributive programs, the extent and type of public goods provision, the burden of taxation across alternative tax bases, the size of government deficits, and the stance of monetary policy during the course of business and electoral cycles? A large and rapidly growing literature in political economics attempts to answer these questions. But so far there is little consensus on the answers and disagreement on the appropriate mode of analysis.

Combining the best of three separate traditions–the theory of macroeconomic policy, public choice, and rational choice in political science–Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini suggest a unified approach to the field. As in modern macroeconomics, individual citizens behave rationally, their preferences over economic outcomes inducing preferences over policy. As in public choice, the delegation of policy decisions to elected representatives may give rise to agency problems between voters and politicians. And, as in rational choice, political institutions shape the procedures for setting policy and electing politicians. The authors outline a common method of analysis, establish several new results, and identify the main outstanding problems.


Modern Political Economics
by Yanis Varoufakis, Joseph Halevi, Nicholas Theocarakis

Once in a while the world astonishes itself. Anxious incredulity replaces intellectual torpor and a puzzled public strains its antennae in every possible direction, desperately seeking explanations for the causes and nature of what just hit it. 2008 was such a moment. Not only did the financial system collapse, and send the real economy into a tailspin, but it also revealed the great gulf separating economics from a very real capitalism. Modern Political Economics has a single aim: To help readers make sense of how 2008 came about and what the post-2008 world has in store.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part delves into every major economic theory, from Aristotle to the present, with a determination to discover clues of what went wrong in 2008. The main finding is that all economic theory is inherently flawed. Any system of ideas whose purpose is to describe capitalism in mathematical or engineering terms leads to inevitable logical inconsistency; an inherent error that stands between us and a decent grasp of capitalist reality. The only scientific truth about capitalism is its radical indeterminacy, a condition which makes it impossible to use science’s tools (e.g. calculus and statistics) to second-guess it. The second part casts an attentive eye on the post-war era; on the breeding ground of the Crash of 2008. It distinguishes between two major post-war phases: The Global Plan (1947-1971) and the Global Minotaur (1971-2008).

This dynamic new book delves into every major economic theory and maps out meticulously the trajectory that global capitalism followed from post-war almost centrally planned stability, to designed disintegration in the 1970s, to an intentional magnification of unsustainable imbalances in the 1980s and, finally, to the most spectacular privatisation of money in the 1990s and beyond. Modern Political Economics is essential reading for Economics students and anyone seeking a better understanding of the 2008 economic crash.


Pillars of Prosperity
by Timothy Besley, Torsten Persson

“Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” So wrote Adam Smith a quarter of a millennium ago. Using the tools of modern political economics and combining economic theory with a bird’s-eye view of the data, this book reinterprets Smith’s pillars of prosperity to explain the existence of development clusters–places that tend to combine effective state institutions, the absence of political violence, and high per-capita incomes.

To achieve peace, the authors stress the avoidance of repressive government and civil conflict. Easy taxes, they argue, refers not to low taxes, but a tax system with widespread compliance that collects taxes at a reasonable cost from a broad base, like income. And a tolerable administration of justice is about legal infrastructure that can support the enforcement of contracts and property rights in line with the rule of law. The authors show that countries tend to enjoy all three pillars of prosperity when they have evolved cohesive political institutions that promote common interests, guaranteeing the provision of public goods. In line with much historical research, international conflict has also been an important force behind effective states by fostering common interests. The absence of common interests and/or cohesive political institutions can explain the existence of very different development clusters in fragile states that are plagued by poverty, violence, and weak state capacity.


Political Economy and Policy Analysis
by Antonio Merlo

Most of economics takes politics for granted. Through some (often implausible) assumptions, it seeks to explain away political structures by characterizing them as stable and predictable or as inconsequential in understanding what goes on in an economy. Such attempts are misguided, and this book shows how governments and political institutions are composed of people who respond to incentives and whose behavior and choices can be studied through the lens of economics.

This book aims to bridge the gap between economics and politics, and in doing so hopes to instill in the reader a deeper appreciation for social scientific thinking. Opening with a refresher on microeconomics and an introduction to the toolkit of political economy, it ensures that the necessary building blocks are in place before building up from the level of the individual and the firm to show how a political–economic equilibrium can be achieved. The text explores how to separate primitives—the external parts of a model that we cannot affect—from outcomes—the internal parts of a model that we can. Moreover, it demonstrates that economic and political issues alike can be studied within the same general framework of analysis.

Political Economy and Policy Analysis offers readers the chance to gain a more sophisticated understanding of political processes, economic processes, and the interplay among them. Adopting an applied microeconomics approach, it will be ideal for upper-level undergraduate or postgraduate courses on political economy, public choice, or policy analysis.

A complementary workbook with exercises and solutions that accompanies Political Economy and Policy Analysis is available for download under the eResources tab at: https://www.routledge.com/Political-Economy-and-Policy-Analysis/Merlo/p/book/9781138591783.


Political Economy in Macroeconomics
by Allan Drazen

Originally, economics was called political economy, and those studying it readily accepted that economic decisions are made in a political world. But economics eventually separated itself from politics to pursue rigorous methods of analyzing individual behavior and markets. Recently, an increasing number of economists have turned their attention to the old question of how politics shape economic outcomes. To date, however, this growing literature has lacked a cogent organization and a unified approach. Here, in the first full-length examination of how political forces affect economic policy decisions, Allan Drazen provides a systematic treatment, organizing the increasingly influential “new political economy” as a more established field at the highly productive intersection of economics and political science.

Although he provides an extraordinarily helpful guide to the recent explosion of papers on political economy in macroeconomics, Drazen moves far beyond survey, giving definition and structure to the field. He proposes that conflict or heterogeneity of interests should be the field’s essential organizing principle, because political questions arise only when people disagree over which economic policies should be enacted or how economic costs and benefits should be distributed. Further, he illustrates how heterogeneity of interests is crucial in every part of political economy. Drazen’s approach allows innovative treatment–using rigorous economic models–of public goods and finance, economic growth, the open economy, economic transition, political business cycles, and all of the traditional topics of macroeconomics.

This major text will have an enormous impact on students and professionals in political science as well as economics, redefining how decision makers on several continents think about the full range of macroeconomic issues and informing the approaches of the next generation of economists.


The Socialist Manifesto
by Bhaskar Sunkara

From one of the most prominent voices on the American Left, a galvanizing argument for why we need socialism in the United States today
With the stunning popularity of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Americans are embracing the class politics of socialism. But what, exactly, is socialism? And what would a socialist system in America look like?
In The Socialist Manifesto, Bhaskar Sunkara explores socialism’s history since the mid-1800s and presents a realistic vision for its future. The editor of Jacobin magazine, Sunkara shows that socialism, though often seen primarily as an economic system, in fact offers the means to fight all forms of oppression, including racism and sexism. The ultimate goal is not Soviet-style planning, but to win rights to healthcare, education, and housing, and to create new democratic institutions in workplaces and communities. A primer on socialism for the 21st century, this is a book for anyone seeking an end to the vast inequities of our age.

The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy
by Ward C Krebs Family Professor of Political Science Barry R Weingast, Barry R. Weingast, Donald A. Wittman, Barry E. Weingast

TheOxford Handbooks of Political Science is a ten-volume set of reference books offering authoritative and engaging critical overviews of the state of political science. Each volume focuses on a particular part of the discipline, with volumes on Public Policy, Political Theory, PoliticalEconomy, Contextual Political Analysis, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Law and Politics, Political Behavior, Political Institutions, and Political Methodology. The project as a whole is under the General Editorship of Robert E. Goodin, with each volume being edited by a distinguishedinternational group of specialists in their respective fields. The books set out not just to report on the discipline, but to shape it. The series will be an indispensable point of reference for anyone working in political science and adjacent disciplines.Over its long lifetime, “political economy” has had many different meanings: the science of managing the resources of a nation so as to provide wealth to its inhabitants for Adam Smith; the study of how the ownership of the means of production influenced historical processes for Marx; the study ofthe inter-relationship between economics and politics for some twentieth-century commentators; and for others, a methodology emphasizing individual rationality (the economic or “public choice” approach) or institutional adaptation (the sociological version). This Handbook views political economy asa grand (if imperfect) synthesis of these various strands, treating political economy as the methodology of economics applied to the analysis of political behavior and institutions.This Handbook surveys the field of political economy, with 58 chapters ranging from micro to macro, national to international, institutional to behavioral, methodological to substantive. Chapters on social choice, constitutional theory, and public economics are set alongside ones on voters, partiesand pressure groups, macroeconomics and politics, capitalism and democracy, and international political economy and international conflict.

The Political Economy of Development
by Just Faaland, Jack R. Parkinson

Economic development may be seen from many different points of view: in terms of history, theory or empirical generalization. The Political Economy of Development draws these points of view together as it explores the practice of economic development itself and considers the issues that arise in attempting to devise development strategies for developing countries and to implement them.

The term ‘political economy’ highlights the fact that economics cannot be conducted in isolation, and always has to be related to the political and social setting of the countries with which it is concerned. The Political Economy of Development foregrounds the political context of development in its study of applied economics.


Readings in Political Economy
by Kaushik Basu

Ranging from authoritative seminal pieces to striking contemporary papers, the readings in this volume explore the complex intersections between politics and economics from the perspectives of both disciplines.

The Political Economy of Africa
by Vishnu Padayachee

The Political Economy of Africa addresses the real possibilities for African development in the coming decades when seen in the light of the continent’s economic performance over the last half-century. This involves an effort to emancipate our thinking from the grip of western economic models that have often ignored Africa’s diversity in their rush to peddle simple nostrums of dubious merit.

The book addresses the seemingly intractable economic problems of the African continent, and traces their origins. It also brings out the instances of successful economic change, and the possibilities for economic revival and renewal. As well as surveying the variety of contemporary situations, the text will provide readers with a firm grasp of the historical background to the topic. It explores issues such as:

  • employment and poverty
  • social policy and security
  • structural adjustment programs and neo-liberal globalization
  • majority rule and democratization
  • taxation and resource mobilization.

It contains a selection of country specific case studies from a range of international contributors, many of whom have lived and worked in Africa. The book will be of particular interest to higher level students in political economy, development studies, area studies (Africa) and economics in general.



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