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Asia in Washington

Exploring the Penumbra of Transnational Power

Kent E. Calder

For several centuries, international relations has been primarily the purview of nation-states. Key powers have included at various times Great Britain, France, Japan, China, Russia (then the U.S.S.R., and then Russia again), and the nation most influential in international relations for the past several decades has been the United States. But in a world growing smaller, with a globalizing system increasing in complexity by the day, the nation-state paradigm is not as dominant as it once was.

In Asia in Washington, longtime Asia analyst Kent Calder examines the concept of "global city" in the context of international affairs. The term typically has been used in an economic context, referring to centers of international finance and commerce such as New York, Tokyo, and London. But Calder extends the concept to political centers as well —particularly in this case, Washington, D.C.

Improved communications, enhanced transportation, greater economic integration and activity have created a new economic village, and global political cities are arising within the new structure —distinguished not by their CEOs or stock markets but by their influence over policy decisions, and their amassing of strategic intelligence on topics from national policy trends to geopolitical risk.

Calder describes the rise of Washington, D.C., as perhaps the preeminent global political city —seat of the world's most powerful government, center of NGO and multilateral policy activity, the locale of institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, and home to numerous think tanks and universities.

Within Washington, the role of Asia is especially relevant for several reasons. It represents the core of the non-Western industrialized world and the most challenge to Western dominance. It also raises the delicate issue of how race matters in international global governance —a factor crucially important during a time of globalization. And since Asia developed later than the West, its changing role in Washington raises major issues regarding how rising powers assimilate themselves into global governance structure. How do Asian nations establish, increase, and leverage their Washington presence, and what is the impact on Washington itself and the decisions made there? Kent Calder explains it all in Asia in Washington.

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Asia Policy

Number 1 (2006) through current issue

Asia Policy is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to bridging the gap between academic research and policymaking on issues related to the Asia-Pacific. The journal publishes peer-reviewed research articles and policy essays, roundtables on policy-relevant topics and recent publications, and book review essays, as well as other occasional formats.

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Asia's Rising Energy and Resource Nationalism

Implications for the United States, China, and the Asia-Pacific Region

By Gabe Collins, Andrew S. Erickson, Yufan Hao, Mikkal E. Herberg, Llewelyn Hughes, Weihua Liu, and Jane Nakano

The 2011 Energy Security Report, "Asia’s Rising Energy and Resource Nationalism," overviews the dramatic developments taking place in Asian energy markets and their geopolitical implications. The report includes an examination of the connection between energy insecurity and control of major sea lanes, the impact of Asia’s national oil companies on the global industry, and the emergence of rare earth elements as an arena for national competition.

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Asia's Uncertain LNG Future

By Mikkal E. Herberg, Michael Bradshaw, Amy Myers Jaffe, Damien Ma, and Nikos Tsafos

Leading energy experts examine how and to what extent countries in the Asia-Pacific are integrating liquefied natural gas (LNG) into their energy-security strategies and analyze the key geopolitical implications for the United States and Asia.

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Asian Perspectives on Financial Sector Reforms and Regulation

edited by Masahiro Kawai and Eswar S. Prasad

Although emerging economies as a group performed well during the global recession, weathering the recession better than advanced economies, there were sharp differences among them and across regions. The emerging economies of Asia had the most favorable outcomes, surviving the ravages of the global financial crisis with relatively modest declines in growth rates in most cases. China and India maintained strong growth during the crisis and played an important role in facilitating global economic recovery.

In this informative volume, the second in a series on emerging markets, editors Masahiro Kawai and Eswar Prasad and the contributors analyze the major domestic macroeconomic and financial policy issues that could limit the growth potential of Asian emerging markets, such as rising inflation and surging capital inflows, with the accompanying risks of asset and credit market bubbles and of rapid currency appreciation. The book examines strategies to promote financial stability, including reforms for financial market development and macroprudential supervision and regulation.

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Asking About Prices

A New Approach to Understanding Price Stickiness

Why do consumer prices and wages adjust so slowly to changes in market conditions? The rigidity or stickiness of price setting in business is central to Keynesian economic theory and a key to understanding how monetary policy works, yet economists have made little headway in determining why it occurs. Asking About Prices offers a groundbreaking empirical approach to a puzzle for which theories abound but facts are scarce. Leading economist Alan Blinder, along with co-authors Elie Canetti, David Lebow, and Jeremy B. Rudd, interviewed a national, multi-industry sample of 200 CEOs, company heads, and other corporate price setters to test the validity of twelve prominent theories of price stickiness. Using everyday language and pertinent scenarios, the carefully designed survey asked decisionmakers how prominently these theoretical concerns entered into their own attitudes and thought processes. Do businesses tend to view the costs of changing prices as prohibitive? Do they worry that lower prices will be equated with poorer quality goods? Are firms more likely to try alternate strategies to changing prices, such as warehousing excess inventory or improving their quality of service? To what extent are prices held in place by contractual agreements, or by invisible handshakes? Asking About Prices offers a gold mine of previously unavailable information. It affirms the widespread presence of price stickiness in American industry, and offers the only available guide to such business details as what fraction of goods are sold by fixed price contract, how often transactions involve repeat customers, and how and when firms review their prices. Some results are surprising: contrary to popular wisdom, prices do not increase more easily than they decrease, and firms do not appear to practice anticipatory pricing, even when they can foresee cost increases. Asking About Prices also offers a chapter-by-chapter review of the survey findings for each of the twelve theories of price stickiness. The authors determine which theories are most popular with actual price setters, how practices vary within different business sectors, across firms of different sizes, and so on. They also direct economists' attention toward a rationale for price stickiness that does not stem from conventional theory, namely a strong reluctance by firms to antagonize or inconvenience their customers. By illuminating how company executives actually think about price setting, Asking About Prices provides an elegant model of a valuable new approach to conducting economic research.

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Aspiration and Ambivalence

Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan

foreword by Bruce O. Riedel. Vanda Felbab-Brown

After more than a decade of great effort and sacrifice by America and its allies, the Taliban still has not been defeated, and many Afghans believe that a civil war is coming. Aspiration and Ambivalence analyzes the U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan and offers detailed recommendations for dealing with the precarious situation leading up to the 2014 transition to Afghan control and beyond. Vanda Felbab-Brown argues that allied efforts in Afghanistan have put far too little emphasis on good governance, concentrating too much on short-term military goals to the detriment of long-term peace and stability. The Western tendency to ally with bullies, warlords, smugglers, and other shady characters in pursuit of short-term military advantage actually empowers the forces working against good governance and long-term political stability. Rampant corruption and mafia rule thus persist, making it impossible for Afghans to believe in the institutional reforms and rule of law that are clearly necessary. This must change — otherwise, the chances of building responsive and sustainable governmental structures are slim, indeed.

Felbab-Brown combines thorough research and analysis with vivid personal accounts of her time spent in the war-torn nation —powerful vignettes illustrating the Afghan aspirations for peace, stability, and sovereignty and the stubborn obstacles to securing them.

"The year 2014 will mark a critical juncture in Afghanistan's odyssey. After more than a decade of arduous fighting and political involvement, the U.S. and international presence there will be significantly reduced and circumscribed. Although the international community has committed itself not to abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s, the onus will be on the Afghan government to provide for the security of the country, its economic development, and governance that attempts to meet the needs of the Afghan people. Difficult challenges, major unresolved questions, and worrisome trends surround all three sets of processes. The biggest hole in the U.S. strategy and international efforts to stabilize the country is the failure to adequately address the country's fractured and brittle political system and very poor governance." —from Aspiration and Ambivalence

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Aspirational Power

Brazil on the Long Road to Global Influence

David R. Mares and Harold A. Trinkunas

Brazil’s soft power path to major power status. The largest country in South America by land mass and population, Brazil has been marked since its independence by a belief that it has the potential to play a major role on the global stage. Set apart from the rest of the hemisphere by culture, language, and history, Brazil has also been viewed by its neighbors as a potential great power and, at times, a threat. But even though domestic aspirations and foreign perceptions have held out the prospect for Brazil becoming a major power, the country has lacked the capabilities—particularly on the military and economic dimensions—to pursue a traditional path to greatness. Aspirational Power examines Brazil as an emerging power. It explains Brazil’s present emphasis on using soft power through a historical analysis of Brazil’s three past attempts to achieve major power status. Though these efforts have fallen short, this book suggests that Brazil will continue to try to emerge, but that it will only succeed when its domestic institutions provide a solid and attractive foundation for the deployment of its soft power abroad. Aspirational Power concludes with concrete recommendations for how Brazil might improve its strategy, and why the great powers, including the United States, should respond positively to Brazil’s emergence.

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Atlanta Paradox

Despite the rapid creation of jobs in the greater Atlanta region, poverty in the city itself remains surprisingly high, and Atlanta's economic boom has yet to play a significant role in narrowing the gap between the suburban rich and the city poor. This book investigates the key factors underlying this paradox.

The authors show that the legacy of past residential segregation as well as the more recent phenomenon of urban sprawl both work against inner city blacks. Many remain concentrated near traditional black neighborhoods south of the city center and face prohibitive commuting distances now that jobs have migrated to outlying northern suburbs.

The book also presents some promising signs. Few whites still hold overt negative stereotypes of blacks, and both whites and blacks would prefer to live in more integrated neighborhoods. The emergence of a dynamic, black middle class and the success of many black-owned businesses in the area also give the authors reason to hope that racial inequality will not remain entrenched in a city where so much else has changed.

A Volume in the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality

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Atlanta Unbound

Enabling Sprawl through Policy and Planning

Looking at Atlanta, Georgia, one might conclude that the city’s notorious sprawl, degraded air quality, and tenuous water supply is a result of a lack of planning—particularly an absence of coordination at the regional level. In Atlanta Unbound, Carlton Wade Basmajian shows that Atlanta’s low-density urban form and its associated problems have been both highly coordinated and regionally planned.
 
Basmajian’s shrewd analysis shows how regional policies spanned political boundaries and   framed local debates over several decades. He examines the role of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s planning deliberations that appear to have contributed to the urban sprawl that they were designed to control. Basmajian explores four cases—regional land development plans, water supply strategies, growth management policies, and transportation infrastructure programs—to provide a detailed account of the interactions between citizens, planners, regional commissions, state government, and federal agencies.
 
In the process, Atlanta Unbound answers the question: Toward what end and for whom is Atlanta’s regional planning process working?
 
In the series Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy, edited by Zane L. Miller, David Stradling, and Larry Bennett

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