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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kenneth G Lawson
SIS 332
Seattle Campus

Political Economy of International Trade and Finance

Theoretical and historical analysis to explore the causes and effects of the rise and decline of four major international trade and monetary regimes. Foundations and emerging features of the new international trade and monetary regime and its implications for the world economy.

Class description

In this course we will explore the historical evolution of the international trade and monetary orders. In particular, focus will be placed on the degree to which states allow market forces to distribute resources, goods, services, and wealth. I argue that since the collapse of Bretton Woods in the early 1970s, there has been a gradual shift in state policyled by the United States and the other members of the G8that favors the primacy of the self-regulating market. Yet, as history tends to suggest, this shift to market forces is unlikely to be sustained over the long run. The phenomenon we today call globalizationthe commodification of land, labor, and money on an integrated global scaleis hardly new nor has it been prone to stability. Accordingly, we will begin by examining the world financial system and the crises that struck that system in the late 90s. Next, we turn to the historical period most similar to the presentthe period between the two World Wars. In week 3, attention is paid to the history and politics of the international monetary system to help us understand and explain how we got to where we are today. Finally, weeks 4 and 5 focus on the issues of world trade from a contemporary perspective.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Our chief objective shall be to explain and examine the practices and institutions that govern the international monetary and trade regimes. We shall do so in a critical wayi.e., not in negative terms, but rather with thoughtful evaluation. This class does NOT emphasize trade or monetary theory as developed in the discipline of economics. Rather, the focus is on the politics and history of trade and finance. You will be encouraged to question some assumptions, intuitions, and beliefs about the connection between markets and politics. I do not, however, intend to advocate any particular political position or policy, and the goal of the course is not to change your beliefs. Rather, the purpose is to help you develop a deeper understanding of your own (and others') convictions about the political and socioeconomic institutions that govern our lives in a globalizing world.

Recommended preparation

SIS 200, 201, 202

Class assignments and grading

1) Simulated negotiation of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements 2) Exam 3) Class participation

Simulation = 45% Exam = 35% Participation = 20%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Kenneth G Lawson
Date: 06/23/2002