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Consumer politics: resource mercantilism

The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation

Jeffrey D. Wilson

Chapter 3 examines how the three resource-poor and import-dependent consumers in the Asia-Pacific (China, Japan and Korea) have responded to the global boom. It reviews the emerging ‘resource crisis’ facing these economies and identifies how these governments have all adopted mercantilist resource security strategies. These are strategies where governments seek to have national firms (either private or state-owned) take control of mining and energy projects abroad in order to preferentially supply home markets. Resource mercantilism is driven by both economic security concerns (including political imperatives to protect important economic constituencies domestically) as well as national security issues (due to geopolitical rivalries causing a lack of confidence in international resource markets). However, resource mercantilism is an inherently zero-sum security strategy, and a ‘race for resources’ has developed between these governments as they compete to lock-up foreign supplies. This race has further fuelled inter-governmental conflict in the Asia-Pacific, and seen resources become linked with several emerging geopolitical tensions.

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Corporations in economic development

Towards a Capitalist Manifesto

Sung-Hee Jwa

This chapter discusses the important role of the corporate firm in capitalism and in economic development. Firms are seen as complementing markets, as a market expander by helping to overcome transaction costs in the overall economy by their command-and-control structures. The chapter also discusses how corporate growth incentives can be secured without necessarily encouraging monopoly power.

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Critique of existing theories and a new beginning

Towards a Capitalist Manifesto

Sung-Hee Jwa

This chapter provides a critique of institution-free mainstream economics, including the important conditions such as private property rights and economic freedom. Despite the merits of private property rights and economic freedom for the efficient functioning of the market economy, the author provides reasons why these may not be sufficient for understanding economic development. The chapter also finds fault in the so-called Washington Consensus but looks favourably at New Institutional Economics as a new hope when looking at economic development. The purpose of this chapter is to show deficiencies in existing knowledge and tools for understanding economic development, and hence the need for a new approach

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Eastern condensed economic development

Towards a Capitalist Manifesto

Sung-Hee Jwa

This chapter discusses the condensed (or rapid) Eastern economic development experiences of Japan, Korea and China. It attempts to understand the common features of industrial policy of the three countries during their economic take-off, as well as the common features of policy failure that have contributed to growth stagnation in Japan and Korea in recent years. Essentially, during economic take-off, economic policy has been discriminatory, while economic egalitarianism has been responsible for the recent years of economic decline. This chapter also argues for the important role of corporations in the economic take-off of Japan and Korea as well as China.

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A General Theory of Economic Development

Towards a Capitalist Manifesto

Sung-Hee Jwa

This book makes the bold attempt at proposing a new general theory of economic development. The main premise is that economic institutions and policies must embody ‘economic discrimination’ if there is to be any chance of real economic development. By economic discrimination, the author means ‘treating differences differently’ by selecting and supporting economic entities and behaviour that contribute positively to the economy. The book identifies markets, government and corporations as the ‘holy trinity of economic development’, that is, the three most important institutions that must work together via economic discrimination to steer the economy towards real transformative progress. The book also warns against the current trend of economic egalitarianism or ‘not treating differences differently’ because it destroys economic incentives and results in an array of economic problems including growth stagnation.
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A General Theory of Economic Development

Towards a Capitalist Manifesto

Sung-Hee Jwa

Chapter 7 formalizes the new General Theory of Economic Development based on the concept of economic discrimination (ED). This is the central theory of the book in which the author argues that the ‘Holy Trinity’ of economic development _ consisting of markets, corporations and the government _ work together with ED as the most important institutions for economic development. The author also claims that the capitalist economy should in fact be called the corporate economy. ED by markets, corporations and government is the key to economic development. Implications of the General Theory of Economic Development are also discussed.

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International Resource Politics in the Asia-Pacific

The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation

Jeffrey D. Wilson

Resource security is a new battleground in the international politics of the Asia-Pacific. With demand for minerals and energy surging, disputes are emerging over access and control of scarce natural resource endowments. Drawing on critical insights from political economy, this book explains why resources have emerged as a source of inter-state conflict in the region.
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Introduction: Asia-Pacific resource politics between boom and crisis

The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation

Jeffrey D. Wilson

What explains the emergence of international resource conflicts in the Asia-Pacific during the last decade? This chapter first introduces the empirical scope of this book – providing a broad overview of the global resource boom of the 2000s, the resource security challenges it has posed, and emerging patterns of inter-governmental conflict these have engendered. It then reviews existing theoretical approaches to international resource politics, outlining how these fail to move beyond the systemic level to probe the wider range of factors at both the international and domestic levels driving government’s policy behaviour. It argues that to adequately explain these dynamics, it is necessary to examine why resource interdependence has become a securitised policy domain, and the political-economic factors driving this shift.

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Natural resources in international politics

The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation

Jeffrey D. Wilson

Chapter 2 develops a framework to theorise the role of natural resources in international politics. It reviews existing IR approaches, identifying their bias towards systemic theorising as a problem which obscures the distinctive political economy dynamics surrounding resource interdependence. It then develops the theoretical argument that the securitisation of resource policy is the factor explaining the likelihood of international conflict. Securitisation is a conceptualised as a variable process, contingent on economic dynamics (namely, world market cycles) and political factors specific to certain states (such as external dependence, rentier institutions and complicating geopolitical relationships). When these securitising pressures are high, governments respond with economic nationalist policies. This encourages rivalrous behaviour and creates an environment prone to inter-state conflict. Conversely, when securitising tendencies are low, governments are less likely to adopt nationalistic policies. This instead enables forms of cooperative behaviour, by augmenting markets and enabling cooperation for shared energy goals. Securitisation is therefore the variable which determines whether international resource politics is conflictual or cooperative.

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The Northeast Asian scramble for resources

The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation

Jeffrey D. Wilson

Chapter 6 explores the emerging ‘scramble’ among Japan, Korea, and China to acquire resource projects abroad. Driven by intensifying energy insecurity and anxieties over being locked-out of key regional markets, these governments all launched mercantilistic energy strategies around the middle of the 2000s. But while their national oil companies (NOCs) collectively acquired over 100 oil and gas projects, few tangible benefits for either national or regional energy security have resulted. Intense investment competition for scarce assets have forced their NOCs to waste billions on costly projects with little commercial viability, while the governments have fallen victim to ‘investment shakedowns’ by nationalistic suppliers. Moreover, energy competition has led to several security spill-overs – particularly controversies over pipeline routing and territorial disputes in the South China Sea – which are complicating already tense geopolitical relations in the Asia-Pacific. Securitisation has meant resource interdependence is a factor for conflict, rather than cooperation, amongst regional powers.