Economic History of Globalization
Instructor: Luciano Segreto
The course aims to offer a general overview of the new international economic order following the end of Cold War. This period is frequently associated with the concept of globalization. The mainstream affirms that this process has been possible because of liberalization, deregulation and in general thanks to a massive reduction of the state intervention. This course will challenge this vision, offering a completely different image of the reasons and the instruments that permitted the transformation of the world economy in the last 25-30 years. Recent political and economic trends in the world economy are challenging even the idea of globalization, proposing unpredictable alliances between European countries and China, and surprising retrenched attitudes by the USA. However, globalization does not mean only liberalization. It is asking for more but also for a different state intervention as well. Emerging economies are building their future both on very old economic policies such as trade tariffs and on the support of the state in implementing the most advanced technologies in their economic structure. Transnational companies are sometimes bigger than the countries where they invest in, but national or supranational institutions try to limit their power. China economic reforms and modernization appears to some extent a new form of state (authoritarian) capitalism. Russia more controversial transition to market economy did create a very similar model. Capital markets are more and more powerful, but national and international institutions work every day to increase levels of regulations and to make more efficient those already existing. Producer, consumers and traders of raw materials and commodities are acting as a sort of “hidden” power that states are trying to counterbalance and to regulate in order to keep a balance in this framework, where economic and financial aspects are continuously interfering and sometimes conflicting with the social dimension of the market.
The course will merge different methodological and theoretical approaches. The international political economy will offer the main instrument to understand the complex dynamics among national, supranational and international private and public institutional actors. Business history approach will permit to understand the strategies of big firms. Understanding world politics and economy implies also using a set of other tools coming from social and human science (sociology, political science, economic theory, history).
The interaction of all this factors and methodologies will permit students to familiarize with the complexity of a changing world, where old hierarchies are continuously challenged, and apparently, unexpected results are frequently the concrete effect of the new balance of power in the world economy.