International Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism

Course No. 5405
Professor Ramon P. DeGennaro, Ph.D.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
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Course No. 5405
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover the origins of today's major international economic institutions.
  • Learn about how these groups function as well as their successes and failures.
  • Examine the causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2007-2008.
  • Investigate the connection between the euro and the Greek debt crisis.
  • Explore the background to the Brexit movement in the UK.

Course Overview

The philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

To see how economic mistakes can repeat time and again, you need look no further than recent history. The Great Depression was the result of a combination of protectionism, populism, and nationalism that combined with bad government policy to make a toxic brew that mired the U.S. and much of the world in an economic downturn for nearly a decade, with effects comparable to a major war. Less than a century later, the Great Recession of 2007-2008 brought a repeat of the financial devastation of its precursor, even if some of the circumstances leading to it had changed with the times. Similar events can be traced throughout other parts of the world, as exemplified by the Greek debt crisis that resulted when the nation gave up the ability to set its own monetary policy as it joined other nations linked by the euro as common currency.

These collapses demonstrate how easy it is to assume large-scale economic failures are isolated, both historically and geographically, when in fact they are immersed in long-standing philosophies and can have immense global ramifications. However, national economies are so complex and their ties to other nations are so numerous that it can be hard to know what lessons to draw from any given crisis. That’s where international economic institutions come in. Since the end of the Great Depression and World War II, bodies such as the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and G-20 have sprung up with a variety of missions, including promoting trade, ensuring financial stability, eradicating poverty, and advancing sustainable economic growth. Included among these goals is the ultimate aim: preventing a descent into worldwide economic chaos, which could easily lead to war.

But while such organizations are trying to knit the world more tightly together, in many countries the voices of populism and nationalism are objecting that the price is too high, that traditional livelihoods and customs are being irretrievably lost. Furthermore, such organizations have the failings common to all human institutions. Do they really work? Have some saved us from disaster? Are we better off without others? What is the best route to prosperity, and do these groups help smooth the way or obstruct it?

International Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism uses these influential organizations as a lens to study today’s globalized economy. In 24 eye-opening half-hour lectures, award-winning teacher and economist Professor Ramon P. DeGennaro of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, conducts you through the dizzying array of groups, their backgrounds, goals, and the important roles they play in the economic life of the entire world.

In a lively and fascinating presentation that covers major principles of political economy, international finance and trade, and macroeconomics, Professor DeGennaro analyzes these organizations in depth to reveal their strengths and weakness. In the process, he presents a panoramic portrait of globalization with all its intriguing connections.

Fruitful but Flawed Institutions

Globalization as we understand it today may feel like a fairly new phenomenon, a sentiment bolstered by the rise of the internet and the increasing visibility of major trade agreements in the headlines. You may be surprised to realize that modern globalization began as an effort to prevent a repeat of World War I, meaning it actually took root nearly a century ago. The resulting League of Nations failed in that goal, as the Great Depression took hold, producing economic and political turmoil that helped incite World War II. Professor DeGennaro demonstrates the ways nations tried again in the aftermath of World War II, closely examining the institutions that resulted to form the core of today’s international economic system, including:

  • Bretton Woods Conference: In a set of agreements negotiated in 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, 44 Allied nations established a gold-based exchange system, the International Monetary Fund to oversee global finance, and the precursor of today’s World Bank to aid the recovery of war-ravaged economies.
  • General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade: Recognizing the role of high tariffs in the Great Depression and the rise of Adolf Hitler, 23 nations agreed to substantially lower trading barriers, spurring some of the fastest growth in the history of international commerce. This compact evolved into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • European Coal and Steel Community: In 1951, six European nations, including traditional enemies France and West Germany, took the first step toward a common market with the goal of making war between them impossible. That organization eventually grew into the European Union (EU), comprising almost 30 countries.

As Professor DeGennaro makes clear, these achievements have not been without setbacks. With each step towards globalization and economic stabilization comes new difficulties and renegotiations. For many of the institutions, the future is unclear. For example, in its quest to build a united states of Europe, many believe the EU has become too big and its regulations too intrusive, inciting the UK to vote to leave the union in 2016 in a drastic step dubbed “Brexit”—a rare case of an international institution facing mutiny by one of its most important members.

The Most Fundamental Institutions of All

Professor DeGennaro argues that there is another type of institution that is more fundamental than the panoply of international groups. These are the laws, customs, and practices that are the preconditions for prosperity, including:

  • Rule of law: This principle ensures that every person gets equal treatment before the law. Government officials cannot act arbitrarily and are subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens. In general, only a strong central government can provide this commitment.
  • Property rights: This bundle of rights governs what you can do with a given resource. It ensures that you reap the rewards from your land, buildings, businesses, ideas, or investments. In many societies, property can be taken away on a whim.
  • Economic freedom: Rule of law and property rights are just two aspects of economic freedom, which also includes free markets, the right to compete, freedom of contract, and open access to political power—as opposed to a narrow elite holding all power.

In International Economic Institutions, you see how the two types of institutions—the formal economic alliances and the principles of economic freedom—don’t always work in synergy. For example, despite loans from the World Bank and regional development banks, many poorer countries can make little economic progress due to their weak property rights and biased application of laws. By contrast, wealthy nations are wealthy precisely because they observe these guarantees.

On the other hand, the United States had all the essential economic liberties in 1930, as did the UK and many other advanced economies. Yet their self-destructive tariffs and mistaken fiscal and monetary policies brought the disaster of the Great Depression upon them. As you will learn in this stimulating course, there is power, safety, and prosperity in international cooperation—if done right.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Politics of Economic Institutions
    Begin your survey of international economic institutions by seeking the reasons that some societies prosper while others fail. Explore different examples from the past and present, asking: What role do institutions play in economic prosperity? Which practices and policies promote growth? Which hinder it? x
  • 2
    Financial Regulation across Borders
    Survey three types of institutions involved in international financial regulation: organizations such as the World Bank; state-to-state contact groups such as the G-20 (which is comprised of leaders from the world's twenty major economies); and trans-governmental networks like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. When are they most effective? When not? x
  • 3
    International Anarchy under One Roof
    International institutions are one way to manage rapid technological change and globalization. At their best, they can make the inherently anarchic nature of international politics run more smoothly. In this lecture, consider the many barriers such institutions face to accomplishing even a partial level of success. x
  • 4
    Messy Multilateralism
    Joining an international institution almost always involves some loss of sovereignty for the new member. So why do nations do it? Also, why do institutions allow themselves to grow in membership to the point that it becomes difficult to function? Examine these paradoxes as they play out in groups such as the European Union and World Trade Organization. x
  • 5
    The Fed and the Roles of Central Banks
    Study the role of central banks, focusing on the First Bank of the United States, championed by Alexander Hamilton, the Second Bank of the United States, rejected by President Andrew Jackson, and the evolution of the Federal Reserve System, established in the wake of bank panics around the turn of the 20th century. x
  • 6
    The Pre-World War II Rise of Big Government
    The rise of international economic institutions appears to be linked to the growth of big government. Explore the features of two prominent political systems: totalitarianism and democracy. Discover the reasons that supranational organizations appeal to each. Then look at the trend toward inflexibility in complex societies and the risk this poses for societal collapse. x
  • 7
    Interest Groups, the State, and Corporatism
    Around the world, nations have adopted big government and command economies to varying degrees, and countries have organized themselves in different ways. Focus on the fundamental features of capitalism, communism, and corporatism—the last involving political control by large interest groups. x
  • 8
    The World Bank, Poverty, and Violence
    Established at the end of World War II, the World Bank has achieved mixed results in its mission to reduce poverty in the developing world. Consider the difficulty of promoting growth in countries plagued by corruption, frequent regime change, and violence. In this light, explore the bank's recent change in strategy. x
  • 9
    Group Choices: Rock, Paper, Scissors
    Examine the steps needed to reach an agreement between an organization and a client nation, along with the incentives that smooth the way toward compliance. As a surprising but instructive example, look at a vote taken by the men of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805 and see how the voting rules and time of the vote affect outcomes. x
  • 10
    The United Nations: A League of Its Own
    Chartered in 1946, the United Nations rose from the ashes of its failed predecessor, the League of Nations. Trace the evolving mission of the UN, its financing, growing membership, and the division between the General Assembly and Security Council. Weigh the strengths and weaknesses of this quintessential supranational group. x
  • 11
    Exchange Rates and the Gold Standard
    Start a series of lectures that analyze the turmoil in international economic relations that led to the Great Depression and its aftermath. Here, focus on the function of the gold standard in stabilizing exchange rates, how this system began to break down after World War I, and the role of gold in the ensuing deflation crisis. x
  • 12
    What Caused the Great Depression?
    The Great Depression is the mother of many of today's international economic institutions. Comparable to a major war in its impact, this protracted era of suffering still eludes definitive explanation. Examine the events that helped trigger the Depression and the litany of policy mistakes that turned a bad situation into a catastrophe. x
  • 13
    "Higgledy Piggledy": F. D. R.’s Stimulus Plan
    One popular school of thought credits President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal with putting the U.S. on the road to recovery during the Great Depression. But did it help or hinder recovery? Dig into Roosevelt's spending programs and his policies in areas such as anti-trust enforcement. Follow the economy through World War II and after. x
  • 14
    The Bank for International Settlements
    Founded in 1930, the Bank for International Settlements is the world's oldest international financial organization, established to help central banks coordinate monetary and financial stability. Chart its controversial history, starting with the bank's earliest mission to facilitate Germany's payment of war reparations after World War I. x
  • 15
    Intrigue at Bretton Woods: July 1944
    Learn how the post–World War II economic order was negotiated in 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. This international monetary and financial conference had all the elements of a political thriller: a desperate debtor (Great Britain), a cocky creditor (the United States), allegations of espionage, and last-minute deals—all against a backdrop of world war. x
  • 16
    The International Monetary Fund
    Membership in the International Monetary Fund has grown many-fold since the IMF was established in 1945. Study the operations of this influential body, which was designed to deal with a very different economic and political climate than exists today. See how its original mission to lend to countries with balance-of-payments problems has broadened, with mixed success. x
  • 17
    The Asian Development Bank
    Modeled on the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank is a consortium of mostly Asian countries established in 1966 and dedicated to fighting poverty in Asia and the Pacific. Go behind the scenes to see how political deal-making between nations works in such organizations, where loans often come with tacit strings attached. x
  • 18
    The World Trade Organization
    Established in 1995, the World Trade Organization formalized the post–World War II drive to reduce tariffs and promote freer trade. Analyze the advantages of free trade and the reasons many countries resist it. Look at regional trading agreements, which are a partial step toward free trade but with drawbacks. Close by charting the WTO’s possible future. x
  • 19
    The Euro
    Probe the problems of the euro, the common currency of the 19 countries in the Eurozone. Focus on Greece as an example of the downside of surrendering the flexibility to adjust interest rates within one's own borders. Investigate the economic and political preconditions that underlie success for a common currency, comparing the Eurozone to the 50 states of the U.S. x
  • 20
    The Great Recession: Mismanaging Risk
    Watch as financial institutions take tried-and-tested tools—mortgages and derivatives—and, prodded by government policy, push them beyond the bounds of prudent risk-taking, sparking the greatest recession since World War II. Identify other contributing factors to the Great Recession, which started in late 2007. Ask why major institutions failed so spectacularly. x
  • 21
    After the Recession: A Bigger House of Cards
    Did the measures taken to speed recovery from the Great Recession help or hurt? What about new regulations passed to prevent similar crises in the future? Evaluate the track record of these steps and other hands-on approaches. One proposal is for a new international institution to enforce financial standards for multinational firms. Would that work? x
  • 22
    Banking Supervision and the Basel Accords
    Banks are supervised through a voluntary set of international rules known as the Basel Accords, which have been updated twice. In light of the inevitability of revisions to regulations, study a phenomenon called regulatory dialectic, which describes an endless cycle—from interest group demands, to government actions, to industry adaptation and exploitation of loopholes, and back to the beginning. x
  • 23
    A Unified Europe, and Then Brexit
    Underway since the end of World War II, European unification has progressed from the European Coal and Steel Community to today's expansive European Union, including the Eurozone monetary union. Explore the distinct advantages of unification, along with the drawbacks that led the UK to vote in 2016 to leave the EU in a step known as Brexit. x
  • 24
    The G-Zero Era of Instability
    The “G” groups are informal blocs of countries that meet to decide economic issues of their mutual interest. Focus on the Groups of Seven and Twenty, comprised of the world’s major economies. Consider whether we are now in an era of “G-Zero,” when no single nation has enough power to take the lead. What might this mean for global economic stability? x

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Your professor

Ramon P. DeGennaro

About Your Professor

Ramon P. DeGennaro, Ph.D.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Dr. Ramon P. DeGennaro is the CBA Professor in Banking and Finance at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In addition, he consults in the areas of business valuation, investments, and financial management and is a Luminary Member of the Angel Capital Group. He also served as a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland and Atlanta and for the American Institute for Economic Research. Professor...
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Reviews

International Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 29.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism The course was very interesting. The course covered a lot of subjects. I started to think the subject of each lecture could be a full course. This is the first time I have studied the subject of the course title. I have seen all of the video lectures and now I will look at the course transcript. The course gives additional reading material for each lecture. I plan to order another course, The Story of Human Language, because it seemed to be ignored in the course. I don't think it will directly address the issue of Globalism vs. Nationalism. Most Nations do have mixed languages but they normally have a primary language.
Date published: 2018-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Apt description Professor DeGennaro presents an excellent survey of national and international political, economic and financial policies and institutions. He does a superb job of objectively demystifying an incredibly complex and confusing subject.
Date published: 2018-07-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not an academic presentation I have not yet viewed all the lectures but so far they have represented a very shallow awareness of history and of political and social institutions. Rather than analyzing the evolution of national and international institutions he jumps right into today's political debates. He often winds up arguing who are the good guys and who are the bad guys rather than examining what is happening and why. So far he appears to be a fairly conservative Republican, arguing or his personal viewpoint about what is good government and what is bad rather than someone trying to understand how and why international economic and political institutions exist.
Date published: 2018-06-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dull and biased This is almost certainly the worst of the 19 Great Courses I have purchased. First, instead of information, he tended to quote economists theories. Professor A wrote ..... Professor B wrote ..... If there is a controversy, I would much rather have a clear presentation of the opposing views. And this approach cluttered things up with lots of citing of sources. I don't need the footnotes in the lecture. Second, he made little use of visual aids. With complex topics that would help. Third, I found the lectures disorganized. The standard method is to provide an outline of each lecture that helps one mentally organized the information. Instead he launched into a series of topics. Finally, there was a clear conservative bias to the lectures. I would have preferred a more balanced approach. And this bias in not revealed anywhere. If the title of the Course was "A Conservative View of International Economics", that would have been a fair representation. Instead he presents many controversial views as fact, often giving short shrift to the the opposing view. While I expect this from a partisan, I don't expect if from an academic.
Date published: 2018-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good and timely intro to international economics A very timely course. Read the other reviews; there is an interesting difference of opinions on the course and the teacher. I think the title is appropriate. A major issue in international economics is deciding when to cooperate with other nations and when to act on your own. It is indeed an issue of cooperative globalism or self interest nationalism. That choice has driven world events and that issue comes up many times in this course. This is a survey course (like so many other of TGC). It is impossible to cover in detail all the issues, history, and economists' opinion in 12 hours of lecture. The course highlights important historical events that led to the formation of the various international institutions we have today. In an academic environment identifying your sources is important for the teaches credibility and to point the student to references for the students' further study. Professor DeGennaro does that very well. The student is free to go to those sources and make up his/her own mind. If you are well accomplished in international economics this course is not for you. If you want an introductory look at the "G-many" and other international economic institutions I recommend this course.
Date published: 2018-05-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A diatribe, not an analysis Very disappointed in this course. Filled with cheap shots against environmentalists and "bureaucrats." Lots of straw man anecdotes probably cribbed from libertarian websites or You Tube videos. For example, the professor states that "environmentalists" were "notorious" for pushing policies like higher smoke stacks that merely disperse pollution. This is a myth and falsehood. In fact, the original Clean Air Act from the 1970s specifically called for pollution control equipment rather than increasing stack height. Higher stacks were always a NIMBY thing. He also dumps on driver's licensing bureaus of all things (Would he rather live in a world in which drivers are not licensed?). These and other lame anecdotes destroy the professor's credibility and objectivity. Also, the course is poorly organized and the professor never really articulates what he is trying to accomplish or what he wants us to learn. It just comes off as a series of gripes about organizations and bureaucrats. It's a shame, because this is an important topic that deserves serious, thoughtful treatment, not a diatribe. Not up to the normally high standards of the Great Courses.
Date published: 2018-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging This course needs a better title. " Intl Econ Institutions " sounds so abstract but the author shows how they effect our lives on a daily basis. We cant see touch or see them the institutions but they sure can us.
Date published: 2018-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Supplemented my Public Policy Research well. This book is about an old lady, that swallows a fly. I still do not know why she swallowed the fly. Maybe that will be in the next edition. But I do know, of course that when she swallowed the horse, she died. That's a fact. It is our job, as citizens, to understand what we are "swallowing", so to speak. Dr. DeGennaro explains the menu well. It is a long menu, and after 24 chapters, he keeps the reader wanting to come back for another visit to the "DeGennaro Cafe". If you read nothing else, just read the last 5 chapters, and then you will understand the analogy of the old lady and the fly, used in the book. But then go back and read the rest. I really enjoyed it, and am referencing parts of it in my term paper on forecasting what "Institutions", "Public Policy" and "International Affairs" will look like in the future. I am a student, along with a business owner, and here is my area of study: -MS International Affairs (2013) -MS Building Construction (2018) -MS Public Policy (in process)....(2020)
Date published: 2018-04-15
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