Watson Institute for International Studies
Mark Blyth

Mark Blyth

Mark Blyth

Professor of International Political Economy and International Studies

Biography

Mark Blyth is Professor of International Political Economy and faculty fellow of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He is based in political science but his research begs and borrows from multiple fields. He is particularly interested in how uncertainty and randomness impact complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe particular economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He was a member of the Warwick Commission on International Financial Reform that made an early case for macro-prudential regulation. He is the author of several books including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, and most recently, Financial Times Books of the Year (economics List) Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013), which questions the return to prominence of financial orthodoxy following the global financial crisis.

Research

The politics of ideas and institutional change:

Blyth’s research in this area focuses upon questions such as how do our ideas about complex systems such as economic institutions impact those institutions? How do such institutions change? How is agency enabled or restricted by the frames agents place upon the problems that they face? What are the distributional consequences of the deployment of different economic models?

The Politics of Finance:

Blyth’s research in this area focuses upon issues such as how the deployment of economic models affects economic policy? Does the financial sector drive entrepreneurial creative destruction or does it lend itself to a more pathological destructive creation of value? How did we get to inhabit a world where central banks are responsible for almost all economic outcomes and yet have almost no policy tools to achieve them while politicians have many more tools but refuse to use them? Are financial markets endogenously unstable?

The Political Economy of Modern Europe:

Blyth’s research in this area focuses upon the sustainability of the European Monetary Union in a period of policy induced low growth. He is particularly interested in why Eurozone governments have effectively made fiscal policy illegal while restricting the policy tools of the European Central Bank and the declining policy function of political parties. He has written on the UK, Germany, and the EU as a whole. 

Publications

Books:

The Future of the Euro (co-edited with Matthias Matthijs), forthcoming with Oxford University Press 2015.

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (New York: Oxford University Press 2013). Translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (complex and simple), Arabic, German, Greek and Korean. Awarded Financial Times, ‘Books of the Year 2013’ – Economics List.

Articles:

“If I told you we could Cure Recessions, Reduce Inequality, and not Skin the Rich to do it…would you be Interested in that?” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014.

“A Curious Case of Caveats and Causes: Some Thoughts on the Causal Story of Banking Across Boundaries,” Environment and Planning, Symposium Contribution, Spring 2014.

“Austerity as Ideology: A Reply to my Critics,” Comparative European Politics, 11 (6) December 2013: 737-751. 

“Constructivism and the Study of International Political Economy in China,” Review of International Political Economy, 20 (6) December 2013: 1276-1299 (with Qingxin K. Wang).

“The Austerity Delusion: How a Dangerous Idea Won Over the West,” Foreign Affairs, April/May 2013: 41-56.

“The BRICs and the Washington Consensus: An Introduction,” Special Issue of the Review of International Political Economy, ‘Dreaming with the BRICs,’ 20 (2) April 2013: 241-255 (with Cornel Ban).

Teaching

Graduate:

The Political Economy of Global Finance

International Political Economy

Undergraduate:

Classics of Political Economy

Money and Power in the IPE

News|Recent News

Boucher reflects on protests in Hong Kong on CNBC.

October 1, 2014

Senior Fellow Richard Boucher, former US ambassador to Cyprus, former assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, and former deputy secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, talks about the impact student protests in Hong Kong will have on the global market.

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Blyth in Foreign Affairs: "Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks ... should hand consumers cash directly."

August 19, 2014

Mark Blyth, professor of international political economy, and hedge fund manager Eric Longergan argue that the way to improve the global economy's problem of insufficient spending is not to pump new money into the financial system, but to employ direct money transfers to reduce dependence on the banking system for growth.

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Events