Yu-Ming Liou


I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Georgetown University and an Adjunct Professor in the International Economic Relations Program at the School of International Service at American University

My research interests span both Comparative and International Political Economy in developed and developing economies and autocratic as well as democratic polities. However, my research is defined by two overarching themes or questions:

First, how global economic flows interact with domestic political institutions to shape attitudes and policy outcomes. Second, how elites gain and utilize policy autonomy vis a vis mass publics (whether in democratic or autocratic settings).

Thus, I examine the puzzle of increasing American trade liberalization in the face of survey data showing consistent public opposition. I argue that American electoral institutions allow political elites to use mass media to both shape and defy public preferences on low-salience issues like international trade.

In related work with Haillie Lee, I examine how firm interests influence employee preferences over trade and other policy areas, as well as the conditional effects of Bilateral Investment Treaties on firm-level Foreign Direct Investment choices. 

Similarly, in research with Paul Musgrave, I study how the global market for energy produces resource revenues that interact with local institutions to produce widely divergent policy outcomes. While in some cases, resource endowments enable state-building and even democratization, in others, non-tax revenues empower autocratic elites to pursue regime-stabilizing policies at the potential expense of public welfare. This research has produced peer-reviewed articles in Comparative Political Studies and International Studies Quarterly and has appeared in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.

My research on other topics includes work with Megan Stewart on rebel civilian victimization (published in the Journal of Politics and featured in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage), with 
J. Furman Daniel III and Paul Musgrave on innovation in military technology (appearing in the Washington Quarterly), and with Cyrus Mohammadian and Fouad Pervez on the efficacy of US drone strikes as counter-terrorism policy in Pakistan.

@YuMingLiou for medium-🔥 takes on Cleveland sports, bad statistics jokes, and occasional political economy tweetstorms.

If you are interested in hiring me in a non-academic professional capacity, please visit Blind Fox Analytics. You can also find a professional-services version of my vita here

Published Research


Under Review

"Where You Work Is Where You Stand: A Firm-Based Theory of Trade Preferences" (with Haillie Lee). Revise and Resubmit at International Organization.

"Attention Must be Paid: Political Awareness and Trade Preference Formation" (with Peter Sima-Eichler). 

Ongoing Research

"Solving the Energy Security Dilemma: Why Energy Insecurity Is a Consequence Not a Cause of Systemic Conflict" (with Paul Musgrave).

"Do BITs Attract Foreign Investment? Measuring FDI as Firm Investment Decisions" (with Haillie Lee).

"Drone Wars: The Terrorists Strike Back" (with Cyrus Mohammadian and Fouad Pervez). 

"The Resource Purse: Resource Rents and State Building" (with Luis Felipe Mantilla-Rehder and Paul Musgrave).

“If You Can’t Say Something Protectionist... Why Politicians Don’t Claim Credit for Trade Liberalization” (with Peter Sima-Eichler).

"Rising Female Mortality Rates and Political Ideology" (with Peter Sima-Eichler and Fouad Pervez).

"Polarity, Risk and State Innovation in Force Structures" (with David Blair, J. Furman Daniel III, and Paul Musgrave).