Economics of hegemony: rome, britain, and america



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Harvard University

Department of Economics

Spring 2008

Economics 970

ECONOMICS OF HEGEMONY: ROME, BRITAIN, AND AMERICA

Teaching Fellow: Abdur-Rahim Syed

Contact: abdur-rahim_syed@ksg08.harvard.edu

Section Times: TBD

Location: TBD

The political achievements and struggles of the world’s greatest empires have been well-documented. Less explored have been the economic underpinnings of empire. How do kingdoms and nations become empires, what sustains them as such, and why do they decline and disintegrate? This course seeks to answer such questions from an economic point of view. Through reading and analyzing economic studies on the subject, we will explore how economics has reinforced and perpetuated hegemony, and the role it played in the decline of Rome and Britain, and the economic future of the United States.


The first part of the course will cover the Roman Empire (27 BC - 395 AD) and the British Empire (1607 AD – 1950 AD). Readings will cover an understanding of the economy, contemporary economic theories, and the interplay of the market economy with the political hegemony. Readings will drawn from classic sources like Adam Smith as well as more recent scholarship – most of the readings will be academic in nature, although some will be targeted towards the lay reader.
The second part of the course will analyze the post-World War II American experience. After surveying the post-War economic context, the readings will then cover the current world economic context and the United States’ role therein. American economic foreign policy initiatives will be analyzed, and students will provide an econometric analysis of a policy initiative of their choosing. The last segment of the course will cover globalization. The readings in this part of the course will span academic studies, economic literature targeting the lay reader, and business school case studies.

QUANTITATIVE LEVEL: 1



Course Requirements
Class Participation (30%)
Class participation is of paramount importance in this readings- and discussion-based course. The students are expected to know the material well in each class, and come prepared to discuss each topic.
Furthermore, each student will lead discussion in one class of their choosing. They are expected to come prepared with a list of questions they want the class to discuss, and lead the discussion.
One unexcused absence is allowed per student, other such absences will negatively affect the class participation grade; students are expected to get permission from the professor for excused absences.
Response Paper (5%)
This 2-pg paper is to familiarize the student with the grading, and to address writing issues early in the course.
Short Response Papers (20%)
These three one-page response papers seek to reinforce the students’ understanding of the Roman Empire and British Empire readings. These are due once a week, with Group 1 generally turning their papers in on Tuesday, and Group 2 on Thursday, in class. These will answer questions to be announced a week in advance of the deadline.
Empirical Exercise (15%)
This eight to ten page paper is to ease the students’ facility with real data, and to introduce them to quantitative analysis of American economic foreign policy initiatives. The students will choose their own foreign policy initiatives; sample topics will be provided.
Prospectus for Final Paper (5%)
This is a one-page summary of what the student seeks to research and analyze in the final paper. The prospectus should explain why the topic is important, lay out a basic framework of analysis, and place the research in context of existing literature on the topic.
Final Paper (25%)
The final paper will test the student’s understanding of the concepts discussed in the course. This is a twenty page research-based paper that should go beyond the material covered in the course.

Course Materials
Along with the course pack, please buy the following books:
Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W. W. Norton & Company, 2003.


The students will have to download, read, print, and bring to class readings that are available online. The schedule of readings provides URLs for these readings.
Note on Plagiarism
All papers are expected to be a student’s own work. Students are urged to take great care in distinguishing their own ideas and thoughts from information and analysis derived from sources, with proper citations delineating that which is gleaned or quoted from other sources. Plagiarism will be dealt with according to University guidelines.

Schedule

Class 1


Rome, Britain, and America

Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration,” 430 BC.

Available at: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GREECE/PERICLES.HTM

Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899.

Available at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/Kipling.html

Thomas Friedman, “A Manifesto for the Fast World,” New York Times, March 28, 1999.

Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/25/reviews/friedman-

mag.html
Class 2



Introduction: Sampling of the Big Ideas

Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” 1848.

Available at: http://www.newyouth.com/archives/classics/marxengels/

communistmanifesto.html#Introduction

Milton Friedman, "The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom,"

Capitalism and Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Available at: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ipe/friedman.htm



Due: 2-pg Response Paper on either reading.
Class 3

The Roman Empire Understood Politically

Wikipedia entry on Roman Empire

Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_empire
Class 4

The Rise of Rome

Michael Crawford, “Rome and the Greek World: Economic Relationships,” The



Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 1, February 1977, p. 42-52.

Peter Temin, “A Market Economy in the Early Roman Empire,” The Journal of Roman



Studies, Vol. 91, 2001, p. 169-181.
Due: Group 1 Response Papers
Class 5

The Decline of Rome I

Mason Hammond, “Economic Stagnation in the Early Roman Empire,” The Journal



of Economic History, Supplement: The Tasks of Economic History, Vol. 6, May

1946, p. 63-90.


Due: Group 2 Response Papers
Class 6

The Decline of Rome II

Mortimer Chambers, The Fall of Rome; Can it Be Explained?, New York: Holt, Rinehart

and Winston, 1963. (5 of 14 essays. ~40 pgs)

Due: Group 1 Response Papers
Class 7

Basics of the British Empire

Wikipedia entry on the British Empire (recommended)

Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_empire

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Bantam Classics, 2003, Book I: Chapters 1-3, 5.

Available at: http://www.bibliomania.com/2/1/65/112/frameset.html

George Orwell, "Shooting an Elephant," 1936.

Available at: http://www.george-orwell.org/Shooting_an_Elephant/0.html
Due: Group 2 Response Papers
Class 8

The Rise of the British Empire

Wikipedia entry on mercantilism

Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism

Robert E. Prasch, "Neoliberalism and Empire: How Are They Related?" Review of



Radical Political Economics, Summer 2005, v. 37, iss. 3, p. 281-87

John Gallagher, The Decline, Revival, and Fall of the British Empire, Cambridge

University Press, Cambridge, 1982, p. 1-18.
Due: Group 1 Response Papers
Class 9

The British Empire as an Economic Venture

Nancy Koehn, The Power of Commerce: Economy and Governance in the First British



Empire, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1994. p. 1-24, 61-104
Due: Group 2 Response Papers
Class 10

Empirical and Library Research Training
Class 11

The Decline of the British Empire

Lance Davis and Robert Huttenback, Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire: the



Economics of British Imperialism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988,

p. 1-29, 58-87, 262-279.

Avner Offer, "The British Empire, 1870-1914: A Waste of Money?," Economic History

Review, May 1993, v. 46, iss. 2, p. 215-38
Class 12

Profiling the American Hegemony

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W. W. Norton & Company, 2003, p.

3-52.
Class 13

The Corporation

Movie screening: “The Corporation”


Due: Empirical Exercise
Class 14

Development in Pax Americana

Richard Vietor and Emily Thompson, “Singapore, Inc.” Harvard Business School Case,

February 27, 2003.
Class 15

American Economic Foreign Policy

Debora Spar and Elizabeth Stein, “Regarding NAFTA,” Harvard Business School Case,

May 28, 1998.

Laura Alfaro and Esteban Clavell, “Foreign Direct Investment,” Harvard Business School

Case, April 13, 2005.
Class 16

The Empire in Question I

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W. W. Norton & Company, 2003, p.

89-132.
Due: Prospectus for Final Paper
Class 17

The Empire in Question II

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W. W. Norton & Company, 2003, p.

133-165.
Class 18

The Proponents of Globalization I

Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.


Class 19

The Proponents of Globalization II

Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.


Class 20

The Detractors of Globalization I

Susanne Soederberg, Global governance in Question: Empire, Class, and the New



Common Sense in Managing North-South Relations, Pluto Press, Ann Arbor, 2006.
Class 21

The Detractors of Globalization II

Susanne Soederberg, Global governance in Question: Empire, Class, and the New



Common Sense in Managing North-South Relations, Pluto Press, Ann Arbor, 2006.
Class 22

Presentation of five Final Papers


Class 23

Presentation of four Final Papers


Final Papers Due



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