Janice E. Thies
A central tenet in a free society is the freedom to choose how to conduct one’s life and manage one’s property, with the responsibility to see that these same freedoms are ensured for others. Considerable effort must be expended to enable freedom of choice among a population, particularly in contentious circumstances, and especially in open systems, such as agriculture. The emergence of conventional agriculture, which relies on the heavy use of synthetic, agrochemical inputs required that concessions/compromises be made, largely by organic farmers, to enable conventional and organic agriculture to co-exist. The advent of genetically modified (GM) crops presents unique co-existence issues, particularly in light of the natural ability of transgenic organisms to hybridize, reproduce, and spread in the environment. Means by which the integrity of organic, conventional and GM farming systems might be assured in order to preserve and ensure farmer and consumer choice is discussed.
Ronald J. Herring
A political economy of food is, somewhat ironically, especially dependent on politics of ideas. Food as commodity certainly exhibits familiar forces of contention in political economy—the relative weights of interests contesting boundaries between state and market—but generates a distinctive politics for interrelated reasons. First, the urgency of food provisioning reflects biological necessity, not mere preference. Consequently, production and distribution animate a politics of security, rights, and social justice, and thereby special potential for collective action and contentious politics. Second, food engages deeply held cultural norms and ethical standards that transcend the politics of interest characteristic of less charged commodities. Finally, a looming sense of crisis and uncertainty in sustainability of global food production has made technical discourses dependent on expertise and science more indispensable but simultaneously more contentious—and transnational in scope. Expertise looms ever larger but has not depoliticized the production, consumption, and distribution of food.
J. Lawrence Broz and Jeffry A. Frieden
This article discusses the political economy of exchange rates, the latter being prominent features of economic life. The article begins by separating the analysis of the international monetary system from the analysis of the policy choices of national governments. This separation allows us to simplify issues in each area and eventually present them in generic political economy terms. The article also discusses how these issues are to be analyzed jointly and across the domains.
Rethinking the Institutional Foundations of China’s Hypergrowth: Official Incentives, Institutional Constraints, and Local Developmentalism
Fubing Su, Ran Tao, and Dali L. Yang
This article examines the institutional foundations of the remarkable growth of the Chinese economy, paying particular attention to official incentives, institutional constraints, and local developmentalism. It begins by outlining two approaches that explain the role of local officials as agents of economic growth: the fiscal incentives approach, which views local officials as revenue maximizers; and the fiscal federalism approach, which views officials as promotion maximizers. It then discusses the tournament thesis based on Chinese policy and empirical data before proposing a three-pronged framework that analyzes China’s political economy and explains why the country’s revenue-maximizing local officials have pursued a particular form of developmentalism since the early 1990s. This framework takes into account a number of phenomena in China’s economic development and transition, including massive industrialization and urbanization, local protectionism, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the rise of TVEs (township and village enterprises).
Stan Winer and Walter Hettich
The article provides an outline of the economics of the public sector and of its structure when collective choice is regarded as an essential component of the analysis. It identifies the key issues that must be faced by political scientists and economists who insist that collective institutions cannot be ignored in research on taxation and public budgets. It also reviews various alternatives to the median voter model; these alternatives are frameworks that interpret public policies as equilibrium outcomes in a multidimensional setting.
This chapter is concerned with Sweden’s current macroeconomic policy framework: how it emerged after the deep economic crisis of the 1990s and how it has functioned since then. The chapter describes a series of institutional reforms in the 1990s and 2000s that were implemented following a major financial crisis in 1991 and 1992. The reforms introduced central bank independence, flexible inflation targeting, a highly structured budgetary process, and an independent fiscal policy council. Thus, a common denominator in reform was to remove economic governance from immediate political control. It also describes the results of these reforms. Finally, the chapter accounts for some important contemporary economic policy controversies.
This article discusses the processes for the allocation and financing of public goods. It first discusses markets and market processes. It explores whether there are any conditions under which voting processes are good mechanisms for the allocation of and taxing for public goods. It is determined that there are similar results for voting and public goods.
Douglas A. Hibbs
This article discusses voting and the macroeconomy and focuses on its more important developments. It studies two views of economic voting, which are prospective and retrospective. This is followed by a section on empirical implementation, where pure prospective voting, pure retrospective voting, and prospective voting are introduced. The article also examines individual electoral choices and aggregate vote shares, and clarifies responsibility in macroeconomy.
Douglass C. North
This article discusses what is missing from the literature on political economy. The first section discusses the need for a dynamic theory, which is illustrated in three examples provided in the latter portion of the article. It then examines the centrality of beliefs and argues that the failure to understand some fundamental questions reflects that social science fails to have a truly dynamic theory that considers the non-ergodic nature of the world.