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: 2022
States blessed with strong economies often leverage their position for political gain using conditionality: they withhold market access from any state that does not embrace specific policies. Programs of conditionality are staggeringly diverse, varying the types of issues tied to market access, the amount of market access connected to each issue, and the degree of compliance required for access. What factors limit the number and types of political issues that can be linked to market access? Using a formal model I show how the design of conditionality is constrained by 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. I show that states will benefit from tying multiple political issues to a single commercial volume when simultaneous noncompliance on multiple issues is unlikely. I also show how the optimal program design varies with the degree of dependence on trade. Finally, I describe how the trilemma is applied to historical and modern examples of economic coercion.
The rapid introduction of artillery to late medieval Europe initiated a massive security crisis by rendering existing urban fortifications obsolete. Instead of turning to existing networks of alliance and patronage to strengthen collective security, cities surrendered their sovereignty and agglomerated into states. How were nascent states able to consolidate authority over the formerly sovereign polities? We propose that cities had to surrender sovereignty to states because the gunpowder revolution forced them to construct new fortifications that required external financing. States were better positioned to use concentrated political authority to efficiently finance the new fortifications and coordinate inter-city security cooperation. We test the theory using detailed data on city-level urban defensive investment, the locations of artillery manufacturers, and the changing locations of national borders. We find that after the development of gunpowder technology, new defensive investments were more likely to be located in areas where borders disappeared, were built closer to politically relevant national borders, and were further from the sites of raw building materials. These findings are consistent with the theory that states arose in part as a consequence of changes in the technology of warfare.
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.
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.
Trade conditionality as an instrument of economic coercion depends on the credibility of threats to revoke market access from target states that do not fulfill the conditionality. But it is equally important to credibly promise that sanctions will not be imposed on target states that do fulfill the conditionality. What instruments can states deploy to make credible promises without undermining the credibility of their threats? I show how excessive demonstrations of resolve to impose sanctions can undermine the credibility of assurances that market access will be restored once conditionality is met. The theory proposes that states can overcome these challenges by carefully choosing coalition partners who can supplement the credibility of assurances. The paper applies the theory to the Iran deal negotiation and finds that Congressional resolve to maintain sanctions stymied progress. Partnership between the United States and European states having less commitment to sanctions enhanced the effectiveness of trade conditionality and enabled the successful conclusion of the negotiations.
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.