Policy in a Global Economy


Units: 12


From the dawn of the New Deal through the presidency of Barack Obama, the U.S. led the development of an open, global system of relatively free trade and global capital flows.  In the current political environment, leaders on both the American political left (like Senator Bernie Sanders) and the political right (like Donald Trump), have called into question this bipartisan consensus in favor of freer trade and investment.  That turn away from globalization has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Was the earlier pro-globalization consensus wrong?  Is globalization good or bad for the U.S. economy?  What are the impacts of globalization on the rest of the world?   How has economic globalization impacted the environment and income inequality in the U.S. and around the world?  How should the Biden Administration seek to manage international economic policy?  This course provides future policy makers and managers with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary to understand economic globalization and its effects. These issues will be studied using the analytical tools and concepts of international economics.  Guest lectures and case studies will provide a range of perspectives on current policy debates. The course will also examine science-based policies that could maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption generated by globalization. The fall 2021 version of the course will examine the global macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways in which international policy coordination -- or lack thereof -- worsened that impact.

The course instructor, Lee Branstetter, was the senior economist for international trade and investment on the staff of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2011-2012.  He is currently a Full Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Heinz College, Director of the Future of Work Initiative at Carnegie Mellon’s Block Center for Technology and Society, and a nonresident senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the world’s leading think tank focused on international economic policy issues.

Learning Outcomes

This course seeks to equip future policy and business leaders to take advantage of the opportunities and cope with the challenges presented by globalization.  The course will accomplish that goal by providing students with a systematic understanding of the central aspects of the global economic environment that influence business decisions and important dimensions of national economic life.  Managers and policymakers must understand the structural economic factors that determine locational advantage, the way government policies both promote and restrain the integration of national economies with the global economy, and the impact of volatility in the global macroeconomic environment on national economic growth and development.  These issues will be studied using the analytical tools and concepts of international economics, and case studies of particular policy challenges will be used to relate these concepts to the practice of policymaking.

Prerequisites Description

There are no pre-requisites.  All content needed in the course will be taught within the course.