Examining what shapes instability in the international political economy

The onset of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 posed a shock to a prevailing consensus. Since then, political and economic shocks have continued to comethe European debt crisis, the Chinese market swoon, the Brexit vote, the Trump election, and a more general softening of the Australian economy. What was once a widespread consensus is increasingly falling sway to populist and nationalist counter-reactions.

Our research focuses on the historical contexts, ideas and institutions, interest groups and leaders shaping global economic possibilities, and evolving responses to moments of instability and crisis.

Current projects include efforts addressing leadership and international organisations, the development of international tax and money laundering regimes, central banking and macroprudential reform, and comparative responses to the Global Financial Crisis.

We also host editorship of the Review of International Political Economy, the leading academic journal devoted to the study of global economic affairs.

Program Leader: Associate Professor Wes Widmaier


The events of 2016 - from the June Brexit vote to the November election of Donald Trump as President of the United States - have posed renewed challenges to prevailing theories of the International Political Economy (IPE). These unexpected events have highlighted the need for theoretical reflection, and so led the editorial board of Review of International Political Economy to seek contributions from leading scholars representing a range of theoretical perspectives in an effort at ‘taking stock’ of IPE research.

To this end, we asked scholars identified with approaches spanning Open Economy Politics, Constructivism, the New Interdependence Approach, Critical Feminist Political Economy, and Discursive Institutionalism to address key questions. More specifically, we asked them to reflect on what IPE scholars "missed" in overlooking the sources of Brexit, Trump, and broader populist trends; the merits of their favoured approaches as an improvement, and the shape of a revised theoretical agenda moving forward.

Our hope was the resulting special section published in our second issue of 2017 would provide insight into contemporary challenges, demonstrate the merit of renewed theoretical engagement, and spur continued debate.

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