BISGST 324: International Political Economy 
Winter Quarter, 2013 
Monday and Wednesday 8:45 AM-10:45 AM, UW1-050

Colin Danby, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell 
Office: UWI-245 - (425) 352-5285  -  Office Hours Monday and Wednesday 11-12 AM, and by appointment  -

Global Studies Librarian: Alyssa Deutschler,

Description and learning objectives 

Why has the United States run a trade deficit in recent decades?   What explains changes in exchange rates?  How has the current global recession, the most serious since the 1930’s, affected international trade and investment?  This course will provide the tools to answer these questions and the basis for further study of international issues. You will learn key concepts, gain an understanding of different theoretical perspectives, and map out the major institutions that shape the international economy. 

We will use short lectures, handouts, exercises, and small-group work on problems to make sure everyone masters fundamental concepts like comparative advantage and the balance of payments.  Exams will include definitions, problems, and short essays.  You will be given advance notice of the content of exams, and opportunity for in-class practice. 

Most importantly, you will learn by doing your own research.  Each participant will be assigned a country and will carry out a series of research tasks on that country over the quarter, producing two research memorandums.  In structured exercises in class, you will compare the results or your research with the results of other participants, gaining a comparative and integrative understanding of the larger world.  This will give you experience working with real-world data and applying the ideas learned in the course. You will leave the course not just with theoretical knowledge, but with practice in investigating specific questions related to the international economy, and communicating the results of your work.  The ability to interpret data about the international economy, and use that data to answer your own research questions, is the core learning objective for this course.  Everything we do in this course serves that objective.

Among the IAS learning objectives, this course emphasizes interdisciplinary research, critical thinking, and writing.  The research memos in this course, especially the second one, are good assignments to save for the IAS Degree Portfolio.  Among the Global Studies learning objectives, we stress research, and the historical context you need to understand the world.  Please take a moment to think about how your own portfolio is developing, and how this course can add to it.  One contribution the research memo can make to your portfolio is to demonstrate your aptitude in handling and communicating data.

There are no prerequisites for this course.  But you are more likely to be successful if you are comfortable with basic quantitative reasoning including graphs (we use a lot of graphs), and if you have some grounding in world history.

  • Completing question sets and worksheets on time: 10% 
  • Participation and in-class worksheets: 10% 
  • Three exams: 45% 
  • Research Memos: 35% 
Question sets and worksheets receive full credit if they represent a reasonable, careful effort to answer all the questions – the answers don’t have to be right to get full credit.  If you are really flummoxed by a question, write about that in your answer!  The main purpose of the question sets is to keep us in communication, so please do them.  Participation will be assessed mainly on the basis of your work in several in-class group sessions: those are currently scheduled for January 23, February 4, 11, and 27, and March 6, but I may shift them around as we go, and I may add others.  Exam questions and practice problems will be made available a week before the exams.  You will get more details about the research memo assignments on the drop-box, but two key elements are worth noting here.  One is thoughtful, careful, informative use of data.  Writing with numbers is a skill that takes practice, and we will practice it.  The other is thoughtful use of different kinds of sources.  This is not just a matter of having a certain number of sources.  The key is being attentive to where your different sources are coming from, and making intelligent use of the fact that different sources are written from different perspectives and for different reasons.


Late work: late submissions will be penalized 15% (of the total possible grade) up to the first week they are late; 30% thereafter.  Late assignments submitted after March 15 will not be graded.  It's your responsibility to organize your life so work gets done on time, reliably.  Please don't show me doctors' notes, court orders, or anything like that. There are no exceptions to the late-work policy -- there simply is no way that I can fairly assess the personal emergencies, job pressures, and other factors that impinge on different people's lives, and adjust individual deadlines accordingly.  There is however one appeal: if you feel that for  any reason, part of your grade does not reflect your learning in the course, write me a short e-mail explaining why, and I will take that into account when assessing the final grade.  Exams cannot be postponed.  

Question sets, worksheets, and research memos are to be turned in via Collect It.  If Collect It goes down or is inaccessible for some reason, feel free to e-mail me your work as an attached file.  This class does not use Blackboard.

In the classroom: Our scheduled classes are times for work. Focusing on the task at hand is vital for your own learning; it also makes you a better participant in small-group discussions and other activities that help others learn. It is therefore expected that you will use class time for class work, and most importantly that you will not do anything to distract other students from class work. It's my responsibility to ensure that the classroom is a place in which every student can work successfully, and I will be forceful in squelching distractions.  I will ask you to avoid private conversations and noisy food, and  to turn off and put away cell phones and any other portable electronic devices. In the interest of avoiding distraction this will be a laptop-free classroom. If you have to arrive late to class, please tiptoe in the back door as quietly as possible.  Please return from break on time (my breaks are five minutes).  It is my responsibility and prerogative to determine what is appropriate classroom behavior.

Keeping track: This syllabus is a web document.  It can be located by putting "danby" into the faculty directory accessible via the main uwb page, or by putting "colin danby" into a search engine like google.  Changes in readings or assignments may be made due to winter weather or other reasons.  So please keep the url in your browser's bookmarks.  If you miss classes, you need to check for any modifications to assignments.  The university also provides you an e-mail account which I will use if I need to contact you, and you’re responsible for forwarding if you use multiple e-mail accounts. It is also easier for me if you e-mail me from your university account, because e-mail that comes from non-university addresses is harder for me to identify amid the daily flood.  At the least, please be sure that any e-mail account you use to contact me shows your full name in the “from” field. 

Staying in touch: I encourage you to see the regular class time as only part of the service provided to you in this course. Please feel no hesitation about contacting me outside of class, about using the scheduled office hours, and about setting up meetings at other times. If you're caring for a child, feel free to bring the child with you to office hours.  Aside from visiting during the scheduled office hours or chatting after class (before class is less good because I'm focused on setting up), the best way to get in touch is e-mail.  Among other things, you can always show me an assignment draft in advance, and I am also happy to look at practice exam answers in advance (really and truly – students don’t always believe this, but I will review drafts of anything.  My job is to help you learn!)  The “Collect It” dropbox also has chat functionality but I don’t monitor it regularly, so please use e-mail for electronic communication with me.  I don't use the UWB voicemail system. I’ll usually reply to e-mails within 24 hours during the M-F week. If I can, I’ll be faster, and I often check in during weekends, but don’t depend on that. Every now and then, the flow of e-mail gets too great and I fall behind for a few days.  Feel free to send me a reminder.  Given federal laws around educational records disclosure (google FERPA), it’s best not to use e-mail to discuss grades or anything sensitive.  But please e-mail me at any time about any question or concern, large or small.  

There is no reason to tell me if you are going to miss class.  However if a serious illness or personal emergency is going to affect course work over a week or more, please tell me so we can plan how to get you back on track as quickly as possible.   If an unforeseen circumstance makes you fall seriously behind in your work, it may be better to cut your losses and seek a hardship withdrawal.

Weather: Please check if the campus may be closed due to weather.  When this happens, I hear about it at the same time you do, via the UWB website or by calling the Campus Information Hotline 425.352.3333.  You may also sign up with an alert system that will contact you via email or text message if classes are canceled. For more information on the alert process, please see

Americans with Disabilities Act: Accommodation for disabled students is a campus priority.   If you believe that you have a disability and would like academic accommodations, please contact the Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) at 425.352.5307, 425.352.5303 TDD, 425.352.5455 FAX, or at

Diversity: In IAS and at UW Bothell, students are expected to respect individual differences including age, cultural background, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender presentation, immigration status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status.  You should also expect to encounter a range of views in course readings and classroom discussions, some of which may be at odds with your own.  Students seeking support around these issues can find more information and resources at

Academic Integrity: This course includes writing.  When you put your name at the top of a paper and hand it in, in a university course, we assume that anything written below that name is your own work unless you indicate otherwise.  See  and for crucial information regarding academic integrity, maybe also my own additional notes on plagiarism.  You are responsible for knowing what constitutes a violation of the University of Washington Student Code, and you will be held responsible for any such violations whether they were intentional or not.  Plagiarism has been a problem in this course in the past.  Please see and my If you are ever in any doubt about how to credit a source, ask me or a reference librarian.  Penalties for plagiarism at UWB include a zero on the assignment and referral to the disciplinary process overseen by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  All cases of significant plagiarism in this course will be referred to the Vice Chancellor’s office. 

Let’s put this in more positive terms!  Proper crediting means two things: 

• In anything that you hand in, your own writing must be clearly distinguished from other people’s writing.  The normal way to do this is with quotation marks around the words that are not yours. 
• Quoted material, or anything that you got from another source (a fact, an idea, something paraphrased) needs a reference clearly attached to it that tells your reader precisely where it came from.

Learning how to cite and reference other work is a useful skill that college should teach you.  The library also has an extremely useful website with resources at

Student Support Services: Library:, 425-352-5340; Writing and Communication Center:, 425-352-5253; Quantitative Skills Center:, 425-352-3170; Student Success and Career Services:, 425-352-3776; Student Counseling Services:, 425-352-3183.


There are no books to buy.
Most of our readings are E-reserves.  If for any reason the direct links to e-reserve readings on the schedule below do not work, those readings can be accessed via this course's e-reserve page.  The library commits to making e-reserves available in a format that will print out well on the library’s computers.  You’re welcome to print them out elsewhere, but neither I nor the library staff can provide technical support for other computers and printers.  In general, it’s not a good idea to wait until the last possible moment to print readings.  The e-reserve collection for this class contains more readings than we will actually use.  
On January 16 you will be asked to make a printout of data and graphs for your assigned country.  The printout may be as large as 40 pages.  You will need to bring the printout with you to class for the rest of the quarter.  Please print this out on actual paper -- I know tablets are wonderful, but they're still too small for this kind of work.
Additional materials will be handed out in class or linked to on the website or discussion board. 

Discussion Board

Via “gopost,” I have set up a Discussion Board for BIS 324 as a forum for announcements, questions, and other conversation relevant to the course.  I will, for example, post the country assignments there when they are ready.  I’ll put up handouts there.  I will use it for material that may be interesting to some of you for one reason or another, but which does not merit taking up class time, and for other purposes.  You are encouraged to use it to post your own questions, announcements, and anything that you think may be of interest to others in either section of the class.  Do keep in mind the difference between the discussion board and Collect-it: anything you post to the discussion board can be seen by anyone with a UWNet ID!  Anything you post to Collect-It can be seen only by you and me.

Quantitative Skills Center

UWB's excellent Quantitative Skills Center is ready to help you with this course.  I will meet with the center's tutors to discuss our course material. 

Schedule of Topics, Readings, and Assignments (subject to adjustment)

 class topics readings, assignments, useful material
(readings should be done before the class for which they are assigned.)
January 7
Unit 1: Preliminaries

Unit goals: (1) Essential historical background, key political concepts and perspectives, (2) Price determination and consumer and producer surplus in the market model, (3) The production possibility frontier

Course introduction

Political economy concepts

Historical outline

Demand and consumer surplus

January 9

Guest appearance by Prof. Charu

The First Globalization and its Collapse

Supply and Producer  Surplus

Before class today:

Find this syllabus online: and bookmark it.  The easiest way to get here is to google "colin danby," click the first result, and click the course link. 

Log in to the Collect-It dropbox and think about  the assignment there about country research preferences, and other questions.  This is where you will submit all your assignments, and where you will get graded assignments back.  (Note: to find the page, just use the link in the syllabus.  It will not show up on your personal Catalyst page.  The dropbox is set up so that anyone with a UWNet ID can access it.)

Find our e-reserves.  In the e-reserves, find Lairson and Skidmore, "Origins of a World Economy,"  Print it out.  Read it, marking it up as you go along.  Read for argument, as well as for key events.

Find our discussion board.

Readings for today:

Lairson (and Skidmore) "Origins of a World Economy"

Demand Supply and Surpluses (my little writeup - just click!)

Optional: Case and Fair, "How to Read and Understand Graphs"

January 14
Political Analysis

Price determination in the market model
First question set due: Find it in the Collect-It drop-box.

Readings for Today:

Lairson and Skidmore, "The Political Economy of American Hegemony."

Price Determination in the Market Model

Optional: Market Model Quiz

Note that your country preferences (also via the drop-box) are due by 5PM on Tuesday the 15th.

January 16

The Bretton Woods institutions and the post-WWII order

More price determination exercises

Find your country assignment, on the discussion board

Reading for Today: Roskin pages 1, 11, 15-16
January 21

Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday (no class)
January 23

Politics: institutions and power

Group work on constituencies, interests, and power.
 Second question set due

Readings for Today:

Danziger Political Institutions I
Danziger Political Institutions II

January 28
first exam(Please see "Guidance for the first exam" in the Discussion Board)
January 30
Unit 2: Trade

Unit goals: (1) Grasp of Ricardian trade theory and comparative advantage, (2) Understanding of and ability to analyze trade restrictions, (3) Familiarity with relevant international institutions

Comparative advantage, practice;

introduction to country projects

Download the World Bank spreadsheet for your country, print it out, and bring it with you.


Stiglitz, Trade

Stiglitz, Trade Policy

A One-factor World: The Ricardo Model 

Optional reading:

A Two-factor World: The HOS Model  

Trade Introduction

February 4


Group work on country data 
Politics and Trade Worksheet due


Spero, International Trade and Domestic Politics

February 6


Contending approaches to trade

Liberalism, Neoliberalism

Nationalism, "Realism"

Class Analysis

Trading blocs and other restrictions

Research sources


Skidelsky, The Growth of a World Economy

Basic Analysis of a Quota


Optional reading:


DeLong and Rasky, “Twelve Things Journalists Need to Remember


February 11
 Group work on country data First Research Memo due

Read: Other trade restrictions

February 13

Institutions: GATT, WTO, and trade policy


Todaro, A Brief History and Analysis of the IMF and World Bank

Trade problems practice -- you should be able to do 1, 2, 3, and 6.  You can ignore 4, 5, and 7 -- all the "large country" cases -- we are doing only the "small country" cases in this version of the course.

Annotated problems -- again, you need only the "small country" problems.


Optional: Detailed  review sheet on trade restrictions

February 18 
 Presidents Day holiday (no class) 
February 20
second exam 
February 25
Unit 3: The Macroeconomy and the Balance of Payments

Unit goals: Familiarity with (1) Open economy macro framework (2) Exchange rates, (3) Key institutions 

Macro flows in a closed economy

Group work on country data


McConnell and Brue, Measuring Domestic Output, National Income, and the Price Level

Parts 1.1 and 1.2 of the Macro Flows Tutorial

February 27

Macro flows in an open economy; simplified balance of payments

Exchange rates


Parts 2.1 and 2.2 of the Macro Flows Tutorial

McConnell and Brue, Exchange Rates, the Balance of Payments, and Trade Deficits

exchange rates

exchange rate practice

March 4

Financial flows

Brazil example - film

Macro/BoP Worksheet due


Balance of Payments: Fundamental Concepts

Balance of Payments: Categories and Definitions, keyed to the IMF data on your spreadsheet


Optional reading: How BoP categories relate to macro categories

March 6

Balance of payments and exchange rates

Group work on country data


Spero, "Governing the International Monetary System"

Kindleberger, "Anatomy of a Typical Crisis"

March 11

 IMF and structural adjustment

Duelling videos: "Solving Real Problems" and "Life and Debt"


March 13 
 Film: “The Crash”Second Research Memo due

From the PBS site for The Crash :  Timeline  Transcript

March 18
There is no class (this is exam week) but I will be in our classroom during normal class times to answer questions related to the final exam 
March 20
final exam
(normal class time, same room)