The narrative that arose during the Great Depression and World War II was that capitalism was in its final stages and failing. The economic arguments of the time combined strands of Keynesianism and Marxism to construct a link between military spending and unemployment, suggesting that the capitalist economy of the U.S. must become militarized to be sustained.
Recent scholarship regarding the idea of a U.S. Empire has raised serious questions as to the feasibility and desirability of imperial ambitions. This paper traces the debate over the net-benefit of empire back to the Classical economists.
Institutional bottlenecks refer to path-dependent institutional arrangements which contribute to economic stagnation. In his research, Timur Kuran identifies several historical institutional bottlenecks which contributed to economic decline and underdevelopment of the Middle East. The authors use Kuran’s research as springboard to ask: what can be done about institutional bottlenecks?
This paper develops the political economy of human rights scandals involving government agencies. An analysis of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is provided to illustrate the economic approach to human rights scandals.
This paper develops the political economy of the militarization of domestic policing. We apply our theory to the U.S., where we trace the (failed) historical attempts to establish constraints to separate the military functions and policing functions of government. In doing so we emphasize the role of crises in the form of perpetual wars — the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” — in the accelerated militarization of domestic policing.
How does the permanent war economy interact, and subsume, the private, non-military economy? Can the two remain at a distance while sharing resource pools? This paper argues that they cannot. Once the U.S. embarked upon the path of permanent war, starting with World War II, the result was a permanent war economy. The permanent war economy continuously draws resources into the military sector at the expense of the private economy, even in times of peace.
In 2010, Haiti was ravaged by a brutal earthquake that affected the lives of millions. The call to assist those in need was heard around the globe. Yet two years later humanitarian efforts led by governments and NGOs have largely failed.
With the current turmoil in the Middle East and shifting political tides, it is difficult to predict the changes that will result from today's events. To discuss the current situation, the Mercatus Center and the George Mason University Economics Society brought together a panel of academics and development experts to discuss the political and economic change that the Middle East is experiencing.