Research

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I study international political economy with a focus on international organizations, economic policymaking, and domestic politics. The followings are brief introductions for selected research projects I work on. Please feel free to reach out to me for a draft!

Photo: At the International Monetary Fund, fieldwork in 2017

The Trilemma and Trade Policy: The Monetary and Financial Roots of Constrained Protectionism (with Mark Copelovitch and Jon Pevehouse) 

We argue that countries’ monetary and financial commitments are a key determinant of their use of “constrained protectionism” – temporary trade barriers (TTBs) that are legal within the WTO-based multilateral trade regime – and of countries’ involvement in WTO disputes. In line with the Mundell-Fleming trilemma, governments who are committed to fixed exchange rates and capital account openness face greater constraints on their macroeconomic policy autonomy. We argue that these government have strong domestic political incentives to use TTBs such as anti-dumping and safeguard duties. These policies, in turn, increase the likelihood that a country will be targeted within the WTO dispute settlement mechanism (DSM). We further argue that this is particularly true when countries are experiencing more severe balance of payments problems.

Credibility in International Negotiation: Government Popularity and IMF lending 

The success of International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs largely depends on the borrowing country’s credibility. But, how does the Fund know if a country is credibly committed to its program? My research demonstrates that the Fund takes the domestic public’s evaluations of their government as a signal of the government’s credibility. Governments with high approval ratings have the political capacity to implement and maintain IMF programs. Unpopular governments, on the other hand, lack the political capacity to credibly commit to implementing IMF conditionality. Concerned with the program’s success prospects, the Fund provides smaller loans with more stringent conditions for more unpopular governments. I gathered data on the relative size of IMF loans for 86 programs (1980-2014) and conditionality for 54 programs (1992-2014) for Latin American countries. The evidence from statistical tests reveals that as the borrowing government’s approval rating increases, IMF deals get sweeter.

Global Contagion and IMF Credit Cycles: A Lender of Partial Resort? (with Stephen B. Kaplan)
(Under review)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has an incomplete governance architecture characterized by insufficient resources to fulfill its global financial stability mandate. We argue this institutional incompleteness influences how the IMF balances tensions between systemic risks and moral hazard, and when it surprisingly exits lending relationships. During high global contagion periods, the IMF targets stabilizing systemic risks to fulfill its mandate, granting large loans and overlooking non-compliance with conditionality.  However, when the IMF perceives minimal contagion risk, it focuses on moral hazard, extending smaller loans with stricter conditionality, and willingly cuts financial ties to preserve its reputation and resources for future crises. Employing a comparative case analysis of IMF decision-making for Argentina (1998-2001) and Greece (2010-2015), we find evidence supporting our theoretical priors from content analysis of IMF executive board meeting minutes, complementary archival evidence, and field research interviews.  These findings have important implications for the IMF, institutionalism, and development. 

Who is Credible? Government Popularity and the Catalytic Effect of IMF Lending (Revise and Resubmit at Comparative Political Studies)

In this paper, I explain variations in private international investors’ reactions to International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs (“the catalytic effect”). Focusing on a borrower’s domestic politics, I argue that a borrower government’s popularity is an important cue for investors about its ability to implement essential IMF conditionality. Therefore, investors react more favorably to more popular IMF borrowers. However, the effect of government popularity on investor behavior decays over time: it provides the strongest impact at the beginning of a Fund program, when investors have less information about the IMF program’s success. I demonstrate the plausibility of the theory through interviews with IMF officials and international investors. Then, using annual data from up to 52 emerging market economies from 1998 to 2017, I find robust statistical evidence supporting these claims after addressing the endogeneity issues and selection bias inherent in IMF programs: an IMF program alone does not restore investor confidence. Rather, an IMF program with extensive conditionalities carried out by a popular government does. My findings have important implications for the study of credible commitment and international organizations and the politics of international finance.