World Politics and International Economics

By C. Fred Bergsten; Lawrence B. Krause | Go to book overview

Editors' preface

The primary objective of this volume is an integrated analysis of the economic and political factors that together determine international economic arrangements. The international economic order of the first postwar generation has eroded badly, if not totally collapsed. The search for replacements is well under way, but has not progressed far.

In our view, this lack of progress is partly due to an inadequate intellectual understanding of sweeping changes in the key elements that underlie any international economic arrangements. Some of these changes are economic, some are political. Yet most analyses of the problem, and proposals for reform, focus almost entirely on either the economic or, to a far lesser extent, the politics of the issues. This volume is predicated on the view that only an integrated approach can adequately explain the bases of international economic arrangements and thus provide solid policy proposals. It represents an effort to provide such an integrated analysis as a basis for proposing directions for the future evolution of the international economic order.

The second objective of the volume is the methodological consequence of this substantive focus on international political economy. Such integrated analysis can be performed only by individuals who can systematically handle both economic and political issues, or by teams that combine experts from each discipline. The volume uses both approaches. Four of the essays have a single author, three of whom are economists and one of whom is a political scientist. The other six essays are jointly authored by an economist and a political scientist (or, in one case, an economist and two political scientists). One of the objectives is to see how well the two methods will work in integrating economic and political analysis, which we feel is an essential component of most policy-oriented research on international economics.

The third objective is to carry the substantive analyses of international economic arrangements through to their institutional conclusions. Most analyses stop short of this point. Yet institutions-defined broadly to include informal and ad hoc arrangements as well as the formalities of permanent organizations-are a central element in the functioning of any international economic system. Indeed, they can help resolve substantive problems or, if they are inadequate, impede solutions. And institutional successes have intrinsic merit through their impact on the development of international law and orderly conduct. Thus, this volume seeks to explore the institutional implications of its substantive conclusions, with respect both to specific issues and to overall international economic policies.

-ix-

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