BOOK MANUSCRIPT & DISSERTATION
▪ Against Business as Usual: Foreign Economic Relations in the Shadow of Emergency Powers.
Book Synopsis: Why do national security shocks transform patterns of economic interdependence in some policy domains but have only marginal consequences in others? This book shows that international flows of money, goods, and people become increasingly malleable as security goals – and executive discretion – take center stage in the policy-making process. However, this effect is diluted when industry groups and threatened politicians push back to defend business-as-usual. The book takes a multifaceted approach toward examining how this interaction of domestic and international pressures shaped foreign aid allocation, preferential trade, visa issuance, and global financial regulation in the U.S. “War on Terror” context. Using a wealth of original data and different methods, I find that security-economic linkages flourished within domains where domestic dissent was weak but struggled to take hold where domestic dissent was strong. These findings clarify the conditions under which foreign economic interests bend to national security imperatives and challenge widespread assertions that one trumps the other.
▪ Job Market Paper: “Against Business as Usual: Foreign Aid, Trade, and Migration in the Shadow of Emergency Powers.” (pdf)
Abstract: How do national security shocks influence patterns of foreign economic interdependence? This article shows that international flows of money, goods, and people become increasingly malleable as security concerns – and executive power – take center stage in the policy-making process. However, this effect is diluted when industry groups and threatened politicians push back to defend business-as-usual. The article employs extensive original data to assess the consequences of this interplay between international and domestic pressures for bilateral patterns of foreign aid, trade, and migration in the U.S. “War on Terror.” Statistical results and qualitative evidence show that security-economic linkages flourished within domains where domestic dissent was weak but struggled to take hold where domestic dissent was strong. These findings clarify the conditions under which foreign economic interests bend to national security imperatives and challenge widespread assertions that one trumps the other.
▪ Under Review: “The Evolution of Scrutiny: Explaining the Global Adoption of Anti-Money Laundering Standards.” (request)
Abstract: How powerful are tools of soft coercion such as scrutiny and shaming for pushing government leaders to adopt different policies? Skeptics identify a host of pathologies: predominantly superficial or haphazard policy changes; immune countries; limited effects without material coercion. This article uses original event history data on the global spread of anti-money laundering standards to examine how the international monitoring regime’s evolution shaped domestic patterns of policy adoption. It shows that regime reforms – which brought greater routinization, legitimacy, and issue linkage – increased the effects of scrutiny and shaming on the likelihood of not only legal changes but stronger enforcement, even among “weak link” jurisdictions that historically resist financial regulation. By studying the consequences of the anti-money laundering regime over time, this article highlights pathways by which international regimes concerned with illicit flows in other contexts might also mend the regulatory sieve from above.
▪ Under Review: “Contested Resilience: Security, Commerce, and the Political Economy of U.S. Visa Policy.” (request)
Abstract: How do foreign and domestic policy imperatives shape the issuance of visas to the United States? Millions of people depend on American visas each year, yet international relations scholars have largely ignored their importance. This article examines the effects of commercial diplomacy and national security goals on bilateral visa issuance patterns over time. Challenging the widespread idea that security trumps economic interests, it contends that multinational industries and their government allies have strong incentives to oppose the “securitization” of visa policies. To understand this dynamic, the article traces the bargaining process which diluted the Department of Homeland Security’s control over visa issuance from its very creation after the September 11th attacks. Furthermore, a disaggregated analysis of visa data shows that U.S. authorities continued to favor people from commercially important countries even as it rushed to shut the door on people from countries linked to security risks. These findings highlight the vital role of agency design in mitigating trade-offs between economic globalization and national security.
▪ “Quantity versus Quality: Explaining Government Barriers to Temporary Migration in Hard Times.” (request)
Abstract: How do economic downturns affect government policies toward temporary migration? The conventional answer is that rising unemployment fuels backlash against foreign labor, which is why politicians embrace quotas and moratoriums to restrict migration in hard times. Yet popular backlash does not fully explain cross-national variation in migration policies during the Great Recession. This paper argues that leaders also have strong incentives to liberalize migration policies in a skill-biased manner when major clients –especially industries with a strong export orientation– are dependent on migrant flows. Using original data to assess the degree to which 25 destination countries passed policies to control the quantity versus the quality of migrant flows from 2008 to 2011, this paper shows (1) that the relative strength of multinational firms in a given country was associated with the most extensive skill-biased measures for lifting migration barriers during the crisis, (2) while unemployment predictably drove the severity of general quotas. The cases of Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom illustrate the interaction of these dual forces and highlight the most surprising outcome: draconian quotas paired with targeted reforms that prop the door open for business-as-usual.
▪ “Power beyond Perversity: The Generalized System of Preferences, Reconsidered.” (request)
Abstract: The Generalized System of Preferences, through which developed countries grant duty-free access for certain goods imported from developing countries on a nonreciprocal basis, is widely viewed as an anachronism of the multilateral trading system. By offering only thin trade benefits and exempting developing countries from full WTO obligations, its critics argue, the GSP not only fails as a development tool but also fosters perverse incentives. Why then has it persisted and, in some cases, grown? This paper tests two explanations. First, large countries primarily use nonreciprocal trade preferences as a tool of linkage diplomacy. Far from being the nondiscriminatory system it was designed to be, politicians selectively manipulate the GSP to enhance the prospects of developing country cooperation in non-trade policy arenas. Second, beneficiary industries in both preference-granting and receiving countries lobby their leaders to ensure GSP’s maintenance. Using an original dataset that records bilateral import eligibility (eg. degree of “coverage”) under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, I find strong evidence in support of the first claim – GSP coverage is greatest and expands most when strategic foreign policy goals are salient – and mixed evidence for the second claim. I also present parallel evidence from the European case. The paper sheds new light on the two-level political dynamic that has kept organized non-reciprocity a pillar of world trade.
DATA COLLECTION IN PROGRESS
▪ “The International Political Economy of Visa Reciprocity.”
▪ “The Power and Pathologies of International Rating Regimes: Comparative Evidence.”
▪ “Support for Multilateral Organizations in Hard Times.”
UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS
▪ “Institutionalization and Legitimacy: Explaining U.S. Adjustment to Allies’ Preferences Across Four Cases of Military Intervention.”
(Winner of the Alona E. Evans Prize in International Law, Duke University)