Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, April 01, 2016

Add to curriculum: more macroeconomics

Three political science professors explain why comparativists are going to have to learn more macroeconomics in order to understand comparative politics.

And if history is to be a guide, we should add to the final paragraph a note about the civil war fought in the USA.

The euro zone is in crisis. Here are the four most important lessons to take away.
The European Union (E.U.) is facing its most serious economic crisis since the first steps towards European integration in the 1950s. Since 2010, the countries that have adopted the euro… have wrestled with a financial and debt crisis that has now caused more lasting economic damage to some parts of Europe than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The economic crisis has turned into a serious political crisis, with conflict among and within E.U. member states threatening both European integration and domestic stability…

Lesson 1: The euro zone crisis looks a lot like other balance of payment crises

The euro zone crisis is unusual. It involves a single currency shared by many countries with widely divergent macroeconomic conditions and little centralized financial regulation. The E.U. has no fiscal policy coordination — and it lacks a credible no-bailout commitment. These factors came together to bring the euro zone close to collapse.

But the crisis played out in pretty much the same way as other balance-of-payments crises over the past two centuries…

Politics during the euro zone crisis have also followed the patterns seen in past financial crises. Countries and groups have squared off in bitter domestic and international conflicts. They have battled over how to share the burden of adjustment. At the domestic level, the crisis has polarized public debate, fueled tensions over reform, and increased support for extremist parties…

Lesson 2: Monetary union raises the political stakes

What’s really different in the euro zone is that the crisis occurred within the context of monetary union and European integration… [T]he European Central Bank, European Council, and other central authorities have now taken on a more powerful role. And creditor countries such as Germany now wield far more power within the E.U…

Lesson 3: The underlying problems of European monetary union never went away

The economic and political problems of adopting a single currency were largely predictable and broadly foreseen prior to the launch of the euro… The third lesson is that ignoring those earlier warning signs was a mistake.

Lesson 4: Monetary union doesn’t work without fiscal and regulatory coordination

The final lesson is that European policymakers need to make some major changes to ensure the euro’s viability. To maintain the monetary union, the euro zone needs a true lender of last resort, deeper coordination on fiscal policy, and increased labor mobility among E.M.U. members. Will this mean the members move towards a more formal fiscal and political union? Clearly, the euro will not survive if nothing changes.

Current political and economic debates in Europe closely mirror those of the United States from the 1790s through the 1860s. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson clashed over whether the federal government should take on state debts; the country split over the First and Second Banks of the United States; and American monetary union was not completed until the 1870s. The U.S. experience shows that crafting a functioning economic and monetary union is a long, hard road, requiring regions and groups to make difficult compromises…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


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Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

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The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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