Free «International Political Economy» Essay Sample

International Political Economy


International political economy is a field of academic study that focuses on the issues related to the global political economy. Various authors have contributed differently to the topics related to the issues of the international political economy. Their works focus on the areas of political science from an economic point of view reflecting such ideas as international relations, globalization and capitalization. The purpose of the current paper is to critically analyze the works of four authors on the issue of international political economy. As such, the issues, which are discussed by the four different authors, will be highlighted in the essay. More so, the aim of the current paper is to ensure that the highlighted issues as well as the gaps in each author’s writings are also highlighted. Therefore, the paper will focus on both the strengths and weaknesses of the four authors’ writings. From this perspective, there will be addressed such questions as how the information provided by Collier (2008) and Radelet (2015) fits into the arguments made by Friedman (2007) and Reich (2015). Furthermore, it is important to consider the points on which the authors disagree as well as the responsibility of the developed world to help the developing world.

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The Bottom Billion

The Bottom Billion is an international politics book written by Paul Collier (2008). The purpose and central argument of the book is to address the issue of why the poor nations experience continuous failure and what can be done to improve the situation. As such, Collier (2008) focuses on the introduction of a new school of thought in international politics. The author challenges the perception that poverty is a trap. Furthermore, he continues to challenge the idea that there are one billion affluent people in the world with over five billion inhabitants living in poor conditions. As such, it is clear that from the author’s perspective, the world`s economic landscape has changed. The average person is in the bottom billion that is described by the author thus not being able to live within the expected living standards. The aspect of living in poverty or under the poverty line means that an individual is exposed greatly to war, conflict, disease as well as corrupt governance and environmental hazards. Collier (2008) also indicates that most of the problems, which are experienced by poor people, are due to the lack of education and vital infrastructure.

In order to address the issues raised, Collier (2008) divides a range of topics into four main development traps. He argues that these four main traps are the underlying issues, which contribute to the issue of economic stagnancy and instability. The first trap is the conflict trap. According to Collier (2008), the conflict trap is an issue, which haunts many of the communities that are living in the bottom billion. The societies face a conflict spurring from the political environment. The political conflict is witnessed in the fact that most of these communities experience constant internal challenges within their systems of governance. Furthermore, violence may also be present as in the case of civil war or coup d`etats which challenge the stability of the system thus leaving no chance for development. Most of the bottom billion communities are unable to achieve economic stability due to the conflict. Furthermore, the conflict further affects the development of these communities so that only the influential people are able to progress economically. According to Collier (2008), the conflict and war are forms of developmental traps, which exist in poor communities thus aggravating the challenges, which are experienced. Additionally, these challenges increase the gap between the developing communities and the developed ones.

The next trap is the natural resources trap. The issue of natural resources trap may not seem real due to the perception that the presence of natural resources is a reason for social and economic development. However, the issue, which is evident in the case of developing countries, is that the surplus in natural resources is countered by their inability to utilize these resources effectively. In this case, one may notice that poor countries have a higher rate of export in terms of raw materials or natural resources, which significantly affects internal growth. As such, over time, these countries with vast economic resource deposits remain underdeveloped while their resources sustain other developed countries. The abundance of natural resources according to Collier (2008) is the leading cause for electoral corruption, general malfunction, political volatility as well as the increased risk of autocratic rule. On the same note, it is clear that the uneven distribution of natural resources has led to the unfair competition of economies. Another key argument of Collier (2008) is that of being landlocked with bad neighbors. Collier (2008) identifies this as an issue, which negatively affects the prosperity of a country. A landlocked country will have poor transport links, and this issue is beyond the control of a particular country. Transport being one of the most vital aspects that facilitate economic development is not achieved successfully in landlocked countries. The author points out the nations that are surrounded by close neighbors who are unwilling or unable to corporate and share in equitable agreements for the sake of mutual economic development.

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Finally, Collier (2008) addresses the issue of bad governance and the effect that it has on the development of a country. The issue of bad governance poses a great threat to the development of any country. The author also identifies this as an issue that should raise alarm for an already developed country since terrible policies and poor governance are able to destroy a nation’s economy at a very high speed. Poor governance also means that a country is unable to make a record of accomplishment of its growth and leadership, which further affects the developing countries. Collier`s (2008) book presents a strong case and provides solutions, which must be applied by the bottom billion in order to evade and come out of these development traps. The solutions are referred to as the agenda for action, which should be applied in order to evade and recover from the challenges that have been identified within the same text. The most significant proposal is the use of international bodies or alliances, which would assist the developing nations to overcome challenges such as conflicts and war. For example, the United Nations can play a significant role in negotiations and help to prevent a conflict or civil war in cases where one is eminent. Therefore, the role of these organizations should not be overlooked. He also emphasizes on financial aid to be channeled to developing nations by the developed ones in order to promote economic growth. Specifically, Collier (2008) suggests that the aid should be used to develop sectors such as the education and medical sectors, which in their turn have a significant impact on the quality of life and job opportunities.

The weaknesses of Collier`s (2008) argument are seen in the solutions that he provides. These solutions seem to create a reliance on the developed countries by the developing nations. For example, the reliance on aid may be an ongoing process and the author fails to identify the appropriate period when the reliance on aid should be allowed. Furthermore, the reliance on international organizations such as the United Nations is also an issue of reliance rather than full stabilization. Indeed, one may ask the question of what happens when the international body pulls out from its activities or assistance. As such, the solutions provided to the developing countries should be intrinsic and internal in order to assist the country from within rather than emphasize on the reliance on stronger or developed countries. The other authors have different arguments contradicting the viewpoint taken by Collier (2008).

The Great Surge

Steven Radelet (2015) focuses mainly on the issues of economic growth, foreign aid, debt as well as poverty reduction in Africa and Asia. From a global economics perspective, Radelet (2015) focuses on these aspects in order to develop a case for enhancing economic development and growth in the developing countries around the world. According to Radelet (2015), the lives of the poor communities or societies have improved significantly over time. In order to support his argument, Radalet indicates that the end of Cold War led to the development of new technologies, which further improved such issues as globalization and good fortunes for the developing nations. The strength of Radelet`s (2015) argument diverts from the commonly held perception that measuring income and GDP per capita are the only ways to measure the nature of wellbeing or development. The author maintains that although these are ideal approaches of measuring sustainable development, it is also evident that development over time has to happen through sustainable methods, which involve economic development. More so, development is a broad process, which takes place through different facets thus Radelet (2015) prefers to focus on these issues from a bigger perspective. Through this approach, it is possible for the reader to understand the entire process of development.

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The author also believes that in order to measure development it is imperative to work on specific goals and evaluate how a nation accomplishes these goals. For example, the development in a particular country can be measured through the millennium development goals or sustainable development goals. Taking into account the variables in development in this case, it is possible to evaluate and understand the nature of development by considering the achievement of previously set goals. Goals are set as objectives, which guide a nation on the right path towards accomplishing specific milestones. Radelet (2015) supports his argument that the current period reflects a time when the global poor nations enjoy significant progress. The progress can be seen in the reduction of poverty, increase in earnings and income as well as improved health. Other indicators of the improvement of the global poor nations include the ability to curb violence as well as spread the basic concept of democracy, which promotes the will of the citizens through their representatives. However, in order to forge significant progress in the future and for these improvements to continue, it is equally important to set international and national goals, which should be viewed as the reference points of the progress that a nation should reach.

The great surge clearly presents how gradual improvements have been realized in the developing nations due to the unprecedented political, economic, and social transformation. Furthermore, the author also gives credit to the courageous leadership in the developing countries as well as the implementation of good policies, which have favored the process of growth and development. Furthermore, Radelet (2015) is keen to provide support to agencies and nations that are trying to fight against the changing environment in terms of climatic change as well as economic and political mismanagement. By supporting these agencies and their agenda, it is possible to overcome the challenges that have been witnessed by the poorest nations. Furthermore, the author makes a case for proper stewardship of resources that will help to ensure that developing nations can perceive their resources as a source of economic development. Therefore, Radalet makes a strong case for his book and arguments.

Radelet`s (2015) argument provokes significant criticism since several authors who have discussed the issues of international political economics hold the perception that the global poor nations have not developed significantly. Most of the critics claim that the only significant development can be seen in nations such as India and China. However, the rest cannot be regarded as developed nations. These include Africa and a few Asian countries. However, Radelet`s (2015) argument is strong since he picks a controversial topic and analyzes it to full extent. Furthermore, he supports the topic, which is criticized by many other authors. On the other hand, his argument has some shortcomings in the sense that some of these developing countries are mired in deep poverty and led by systems of anarchy. Furthermore, the developing nations are unable to sustain their societies through food production thus some of them continuously rely on food aid. Nonetheless, Radelet (2015) argues that in nations where the major transformation has not been detected, the transformation is underway; thus, the results should not be expected immediately. The process of growth and progress is gradual so that the results will be noted in these nations only after some time. In this case, the author is able to counter all the arguments and criticisms that are pushed against his claims in the book.

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Saving Capitalism

The main argument in Saving Capitalism is that the concept of a free market is a concept, which was created by human beings thus the government should not be tasked with the duty of shaping the free market. Reich (2015) is concerned due to the interest that many authors have taken regarding the issue of the free market. One of the most outstanding claims made by Reich (2015) is that different authors who intend to cover up on the real issues regarding reaping the economic gains of the current system have spurred the issue of a free market and the debate around free markets versus the government. The free market according to Reich (2015) is dependent on five significant building blocks, which sustain the free market. These building blocks include bankruptcy, law enforcement, property, contracts, and monopolies. In this case, the author opposes the commonly held view as part of the debate that the government is against the formulation of a free market. He replaces this argument with the view that the main issue revolves around how the free market is organized as well as the role played by the government in organizing the free market thus influencing any decisions, which are made regarding the market.

The weaknesses in Reich`s (2015) argument is that he ignores some very critical questions that revolve around his argument. For example, it is evident that he does not discuss the issues pertaining to the privatization of industries such as the ones in the education sector, healthcare, and prisons. He fails to argue about the pros and cons of socialism versus privatization of these industries. On the other hand, he mostly favors such issues as the standards, which have been set within the free markets. Furthermore, he also focuses majorly on issues, which revolve around the treatment of income and wealth inequality within large corporations. He also addresses the issue of how large is the control over special interests by corporations within the free market. Therefore, he denotes that the trends within the free market are witnessed regarding the interests, which are expressed by the large corporations. Therefore, in comparison with the main books, which are reviewed in this paper, Reich (2015) fails to take a national approach. Furthermore, his arguments focus more on the pros and cons of the free market as compared to the process of growth. Furthermore, the only solution provided to the current problems of overpopulation and globalization in the book lies in the utilization of a universal basic income rate, which would favor all individuals. The shortcoming of his work is that he highlights numerous problems within the current system but provides only one solution.

The World Is Flat

Friedman argues that globalization has played a key role in shaping modern day international economic politics. In support of his argument, Friedman identifies ten issues that have led to the globalization thus leading to flattening of the world. The term flat is used symbolically to refer to the ease of access and communication that is witnessed nowadays. The first flattener identified is the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which signified the end of the Cold War; thus economic progress was achieved through free interaction of people. Netscape and the internet are the second key flatteners, which led to easier sharing of information and digitization of the workplace thus facilitating flexible work schedules. Additionally, workflow software is a flattener, which has allowed individuals to be more creative in their workplaces and thus come up with solutions in terms of information storage and data sharing at workplace. Other flatteners that have revolutionized the word include outsourcing, offshoring, uploading, insourcing and supply chaining. Furthermore, the wireless technologies as well as the use of the search engines have also flattened the world. These are considered by Freidman (2007) as different flatteners but they can be grouped into one category since they refer to new approaches of conducting business by fully maximizing information technology.

Freidman`s (2007) argument focuses majorly on the issue of globalization; thus he perceives it as the most significant form of international progress. The weakness of his book is that he fails to address the issues that surround the development of developing countries. Analyzing Friedman`s contribution to the issues of international political economics, it is evident that he fails to address the real issues which are hindering or contributing to the development of the developing nations. Furthermore, he assumes that developed and developing nations have been affected in a similar manner due to the effect of flattening or globalization. Therefore, his argument has a shortcoming as he focuses only on a single issue.


Indeed, the four authors focus on different issues, which they deem important due to their interrelation with the topic of international political economics. Reviewing their focus points reveals that the authors are biased concerning some issues since these issues are either overlooked or completely ignored. However, they have made significant contribution to the topic of international political economics. Comparison of each of their books proves that they focus or identify specific issues, which they feel are relevant for global development. For example, Collier is addresses the issues that affect the bottom billion as he analyzes the steps that they have taken this far. Secondly, Radelet discusses the great surge that has taken place and has resulted in significant economic, social, and political changes.