The Glass Bead Game
The Federal Reserve Takes the Federal Funds Rate to 4.25%

PE 101, "Modern" Political Economy, Final Exam

At the final review class, the most interesting question asked me was:

What is the difference between Joseph Stiglitz's Dani Rodrik's approaches to economic development policy and the proper structuring of economic institutions?

D---ed if I know the answer to that. Maybe one of them does.

Section reviews:

  • Peacock/Durham W 1:30-4 Barrows 20
  • Chaubey W 11-1 Wheeler 100

Final exam: S 5-8 2060 VLSB

At the final exam we will give you three of the essay questions below--and ask you to write on two of them. That will be two-thirds of the three-hour exam. The remaining one-third of the exam will be eight short answers, no choice.


  1. Consider all the thinkers we have read who have written about the relationship between political economy and war (i.e., Schumpeter, Hobson, Angell--but also Keynes--at the start of the course--and also people like Barber and Stern near the end). Whose analyses of the roots and functions of war and imperialism do you think are likely to be closest to being true in the twenty-first century? Why? Whose analyses do you think are most closely shaped by and bound to the historical context in which they lived, and thus are not likely to be accurate descriptions of the future?

  2. In what ways are thinkers like Milton Friedman (in Capitalism and Freedom) and thinkers like James Scott (in Seeing Like a State) close intellectual allies? In what ways are they mortal intellectual enemies? How have the pieces of twentieth century history that they have lived through and focus on led them to their respective conclusions?

  3. What are the most notable differences between John Maynard Keynes's and Karl Polanyi's respective analyses of the problems of Europe between the world wars? What were the problems of Europe between the world wars?

  4. One way to understand almost all of the thinkers read in this course is that they are all trying in various ways to escape from the box history placed us in when history turned out not to follow the "pre-WWI classical liberal" path of steadily increasing prosperity, democratization, globalization, and peace. Take at least six of the thinkers read in this course and put them in their proper place in this perspective: What things in twentieth-century history made them reject or try to fix classical liberalism? How did they think that humanity should get out of the traps and problems that history was presenting?

  5. James Scott argues in Seeing Like a State that attempts at state-led development is likely to lead to a disaster. Others we have read--for example, Milton Friedman--agree. James Fallows believes that state led development in East Asia has been a smashing success. Others we have read--for example, Joseph Stiglitz--are similarly optimistic about the positive role that the government can play in economic development? How would you reconcile these two points of view? What aspects of twentieth century history is each of these two perspectives keying off of?

  6. Two of the people who we read--Milovan Djilas and George Orwell--make no pretense of being social scientists. Milovan Djilas is a soldier, a politician, and an apparatchik. George Orwell is a literary intellectual and a moralist. What--if anything--makes their excursions into political economy more penetrating and illuminating than the works of those who are social scientists by profession? Or was assigning them in this course simply a mistake?

  7. A large number of the thinkers we have read are explicitly concerned not just with what is but with what ought to be--not just with the technocratic "what works" but with the moral questions of "what kind of people we are" and "who are we responsible toward." Consider John Maynard Keynes, Karl Polanyi, Milton Friedman, and Joe Stiglitz. How are each of their arguments and points of view "moral" rather than "technocratic"? Does the moral element strengthen or weaken the cases they make, in your opinion?

  8. One way to understand Karl Polanyi's argument in his The Great Transformation is that the market system is efficient but not equitable: it produces enormous wealth, but does not treat people "fairly." What other thinkers that we have read in this course either make or reject that part of Polanyi's argument? What pieces of twentieth-century history that they saw led them to their positions?