Here is where I list books and/or periodicals I’ve been reading that I think anyone interested in the field would benefit from reading. As an avid reader I welcome any suggestions!
First and foremost if you are not reading The Economist you need to be! If you studied political theory you’ll recognize very quickly the “social liberalism” that imbues the views of this “newspaper.” Unfortunately, it is also one of those periodicals that people claim to read far more than they actually do, so when I meet another reader and get excited usually they claim to have not “read that/those article(s).” Besides their dry wit and superb coverage from throughout the world they also provide myriad points of learning from their “Finance and Economics” section. I’d suggest powering through it and then looking online for material you have trouble with so that you constantly keep learning. They typically do a decent job in breaking down the terms for laymen. This newspaper above any other I would suggest reading if you’re pressed for time.
In terms of international political coverage I have yet to find a daily newspaper that can even come close to the Financial Times. The “pink paper” splits their major news from their “Companies and Markets” section which I usually just browse. Their Op-Eds include Martin Wolf, Gideon Rachman, Clive Crook, John Gapper, Gillian Tett, Niall Ferguson and they regularly have contributions from other important individuals (e.g. Pascal Lamy, Hillary Clinton, etc.). They cover the IMF/WB like no other paper I’ve tried (i.e. NYT, WSJ, IHS) and frequently expand on the consequences of the news. I started reading this paper in 2006 and haven’t stopped since. They gave me a firm understanding of the financial crisis of which I wouldn’t be able to understand much international news. CDOs, CDSs, MBSs, and other initials all make sense to me whereas I imagine I might have labored much longer otherwise to understand them. As a bonus their FT Weekend coverage comes on Saturday and is almost always good!
This is the book to read if you are interested in political risk. It is an excellent primer for those looking to understand the field and how it works. It introduces you to history and concepts that are definitely “looked over” in most history books, even economic history books. Some of the things that I learned among many others:
- Between 1836–39 seven US states defaulted;
- After World War I the U.S. government expropriated German businesses for reparations, specifically Bayer;
- Additionally, several principles were explained, such as expropriation, nationalization, economic macrorisk, economic microrisk, divestment pressure, and others.
Seriously, if there’s a book to read — this is it.
I was intrigued with Argentina’s default years ago and finally got around to reading this book. I remember it was during a college class that a peer made a declaration about abandoning a country which made me wonder how and whether such a fate could occur to any state, even ours (US.…too cheesy). Blustein writes with a style usually reserved for non-business books and takes the time to explain any business or technical terms when he introduces it. His definition of bond yields, in particular, is an example of how he makes recondite material simple to understand. The introduction of key individuals reminds me of the biographical sketches that the NYer does so well, but Blustein keeps the information to what’s essential and doesn’t start overburdening the reader with the birthplaces of every person involved. Without such information the quotes provided would seem bland and the emotional exchanges would seem banal. Larry Summers comes across much nicer than any portrait I’ve read of him and is the first time I’ve read something about him where “diet cokes” aren’t mentioned. (I’m never sure why writers do that, as if by not mentioning the diet cokes I’ll think the writer hasn’t actually met him, just pick another attribute of his personality/habits to highlight!!) Blustein views the G7 as almost omnipotent, especially the US, within the IMF. His discussion about dissent withing the Fund seems short-sighted until about halfway through the book when he finally provides the most sensible reason dissent isn’t aired to the public: that any doubts about the “programs” the Fund organizes with states could spread further doubt about a state’s already tenuous grasp on its finances. Stiglitz has been known for questioning the undemocratic character of the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) and his criticisms were brought to mind when reading how British and Canadian dissent on Argentina’s ability to repay the loan were brought up. In fairness, the fact that dissent is allowed, just not publicized, seems to me to be democratic and ultimately all voting is done by a state’s quota or contribution which also seems somewhat fair; although how could it not be to an American since our stake, while not a majority, is sizable enough to block any plans undesirable to a US administration. Although he explains why a distorted system provides incentives for the provinces to spend profligately (governors get roughly half their income from the federal government, so blame for high taxes is focused on Buenos Aires instead of on their provincial capital that is creating the reasons for such taxes) he never explains why Argentina continued to sell so many bonds. At a certain point it becomes obvious that like someone who must constantly shift their balances to new cards to avoid actually paying the principal, Argentina needed to keep “refinancing” its debt since there was little money to pay down the actual balance. But how and why Argentina got itself into this situation in the first place (i.e. a massive infrastructure project, benefits, etc?) was not explored sufficiently. Overall the book is a sufficient primer on how the situation arose and was (mis)handled by the international community and the dangers of international capital flight.
Daniel Drezner’s “Top 10 IPE Books”
Daniel Drezner’s “Top 10 PE Books of 2009″
Fareed Zakaria’s “Suggested Booksfrom GPS”
Foreign Affairs’”What to read on Oil.“
Foreign Policy’s “The FP Global Thinkers Book Club“
Walter Russell Mead’s “The Mead List.”
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