I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Economy and Government program, which is jointly administered by the Harvard Departments of Government and Economics and the Harvard Kennedy School. Before graduate school I worked in economic consulting and I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. My research primarily studies the international political economy of trade using formal and quantitative methods.
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BA in International Relations and Economics, 2014
University of Pennsylvania
PhD in Political Economy and Government, Expected: 2021
Firms avoid paying the costs of protection in many ways – their actions lobbying against tariffs or relocating production are well known. What is the political economy of protection between opportunities to change the tariff schedule? This paper reveals another escape path through administrative lobbying to redefine products. Import-dependent firms seek lower tariffs by requesting that their products be classified into categories of the tariff schedule with lower duties. When firms substitute lobbying resources away from the determination of tariffs and towards the classification of their products, they undermine collective action because the narrow scope of the rulings delivers a private benefit to the firm. Using a unique dataset of over 200,000 classification rulings by US customs officials between 1990 and 2020, I find evidence that firms request classifications in response to rising protection. In particular, demand for classification rulings rose in response to textile quotas and President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Classification requests are also concentrated in tariff headings that contain high variance in tariff rates. The empirical patterns suggest that firms treat lobbying over tariff levels and lobbying over tariff classification as strategic substitutes.
The rise of the modern European state coincided with the arrival of a new technology, artillery, that changed the balance of offensive vs. defensive capabilities. What role did this technological shift play in the development of centralized nation-states? We propose a theory of how the Gunpowder Revolution encouraged European cities to cede sovereignty to proto-states in exchange for security by significantly raising the construction costs of effective defensive fortifications. States could provide defenses more efficiently by coordinating resources, constructing defenses in strategic locations, and wielding authority to alleviate collective action problems. We test our theory empirically with data on the fortifications of over 4,000 European localities.
Individual states are threatened with sanctions only after they have chosen to violate international norms. Therefore, empirical analyses of threats to impose sanctions on specific states are subject to a strategic selection effect. Before any aberrant conduct occurs, the threat of sanctions is understood to be a possible consequence. Are generalized sanctions threats enough to prevent certain policies, even though they do not target specific states? I study this question in the context of the US Generalized System of Preferences using a differences-in-differences estimation strategy. Membership in the GSP is available to developing states conditional on respect labor and intellectual property rights. The policy is general because it includes all developing states. I leverage exogenous variation in the state-specific product scope to isolate the causal effect of changes in the value of program membership on rights protections in eligible states. I find evidence that states really do increase intellectual property rights enforcement when the benefits of GSP membership are higher, but the effects are not present for labor rights.
States frequently design unenforceable programs of trade conditionality. For example, the United States’s Generalized System of Preferences grants tariff exemptions on thousands of products imported from developing states that respect both labor and intellectual property rights. The US might hesitate to expel states that violate labor rights from eligibility because doing so would also mean forfeiting leverage over respect for intellectual property rights in those places. Many states other than the US choose to tie multiple political issues to a single trade flow, thereby undermining their own ability to credibly enforce the conditionality. I argue that these designs which seem misguided at a glance actually reflect an underlying economic coercion trilemma. Programs of economic coercion can achieve at most two of the following three objectives: 1) a broad coalition of support for conditionality from multiple interest groups whose issues are linked to trade, 2) the maximum trade value possible being tied to each issue, and 3) consistent enforcement across issues. How states choose to make tradeoffs across these three priorities depends on the strategic environment. Consistent enforcement is prioritized when there are intermediate levels of dependence or when it is necessary to tie many issues to trade. Maximum leverage is prioritized when there are extreme levels of dependence and when the issues being tied to trade are similar. This paper also contributes a formal model of the economic coercion trilemma to illustrate optimal tradeoffs across its range.
States that effectively deploy trade conditionality must credibly communicate their willingness to enforce the threat to revoke market access, even if it means foregoing their own gains from trade. Much of the literature has sought to explain how states communicate their resolve to sustain costs and thereby achieve better outcomes from bargaining. This paper shows how excessive demonstrations of resolve can actually hinder the negotiation process using a case study of the Iran deal negotiation. The United States was highly resolved in its willingness to sanction Iran because of their acrimonious history and the US’s strategic interests in the region. But its evident willingness to bear economic costs did not automatically translate into a stronger negotiating position. In fact, Iran’s negotiators had little reason to believe that US sanctions would be lifted even if the nuclear program were dismantled. A deal was eventually made possible because the European Union, which was more tempted by Iranian business opportunities, credibly promised it would remove the sanctions as long as Iran ended its nuclear program and the US promised not to interfere. In addition to the case analysis, this paper describes how the case can be generalized to a theory of credible promises and contributes a formal model explaining how US institutions created a political environment where sanctions could only be removed with great difficulty.
If globalization caused enough economic dislocation to attract the ire of elected officials and voters, then why didn’t the rise of automation also induce similar changes? If globalization induced such intense anxiety among voters, why did they respond by supporting anti-globalization candidates instead of supporting greater economic transfers to those harmed by economic shocks? Our argument is that the collision of economic nationalism and comparative advantage explains both questions. Economic nationalists are distinguished by their belief that the best way to secure their state’s independence from foreign political influence is to protect its economic self-sufficiency. For an economic nationalist living in a technology or capital abundant state, imports of labor-intensive products both destroy manufacturing jobs and make the state dependent on foreign inputs. By contrast, economic nationalists in capital-abundant states are ambivalent about automation. New automation technologies developed domestically also harm manufacturing employment but they promote the economic self-sufficiency of the state. Opportunistic populist politicians neglect automation as a cause of economic dislocation because their natural constituency is conflicted about the merits of stopping it directly. But they are united in their opposition to foreign imports.