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The Political Economy of Global Finance: A Network Model

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 March 2013

Thomas Oatley
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:
W. Kindred Winecoff
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:
Andrew Pennock
Taubman Center for Public Policy & American Institutions, Brown University. E-mail:
Sarah Bauerle Danzman
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:


Although the subprime crisis regenerated interest in and stimulated debate about how to study the politics of global finance, it has not sparked the development of new approaches to International Political Economy (IPE), which remains firmly rooted in actor-centered models. We develop an alternative network-based approach that shifts the analytical focus to the relations between actors. We first depict the contemporary global financial system as a network, with a particular focus on its hierarchical structure. We then explore key characteristics of this global financial network, including how the hierarchic network structure shapes the dynamics of financial contagion and the source and persistence of power. Throughout, we strive to relate existing research to our network approach in order to highlight exactly where this approach accommodates, where it extends, and where it challenges existing knowledge generated by actor-centered models. We conclude by suggesting that a network approach enables us to construct a systemic IPE that is theoretically and empirically pluralist.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

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