Department of Political Studies
Center for Research & Teaching in Economics

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Research

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International Political Economy

My international political economy research examines the impact of economic policy statements on financial markets. In a forthcoming article, “Does @theRealDonaldTrump Really Affect Financial Markets?” (American Journal of Political Science), I and my coauthor Andrew Philips (University of Colorado, Boulder) examine the impact of economic policy statements made by US President Donald J. Trump (via the microblogging site Twitter) on financial markets. Research on politics and financial markets suggests that Trump’s economic policy “tweets” should not matter to markets, because each merely restates his well-known policy views. In contrast, we argue that Trump's policy tweets should affect financial markets because they clarify his level of commitment to his economic policy goals. We test this argument using data on Trump's Mexico-related policy tweets and the US dollar/Mexican peso exchange rate. We find that Trump's Mexico-related tweets raised US dollar/Mexican peso exchange rate volatility both when his views were first becoming known, as well as thereafter, in line with our expectations. This research contributes to our understanding about the influence of social media on financial markets.

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Comparative Political Economy

My comparative political economy research examines political budget cycles, especially how political ambition affects subnational fiscal policy choice. I examine the logic behind what I call “subnational partisan fiscal policy interdependence.” I argue that political ambition drives copartisan subnational leaders to compete with one another to appeal to higher-level party leaders’ fiscal policy preferences, in their pursuit of building successful political careers. Political careerism thus produces complex partisan networks of policy interdependence across space and time. In a first paper (Journal of Politics 2019), I explain how political ambition drives vertical partisan fiscal policy interdependence. In a second paper (being prepared for submission), I explain how political ambition also drives horizontal partisan fiscal policy interdependence. In a related project, Lorena Barberia (University of São Paulo, Brazil) and I examine the impact of incumbency on subnational fiscal spending. This research contributes to knowledge about how partisanship affects subnational political budget cycles.

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Comparative Local Governance

In addition to examining topics in political economy, I have also conducted research on subnational authoritarian rule. Inspired by my long time living and traveling in Mexico, I have examined how participatory political institutions contribute to local governance. My research in Mexico shows that participatory institutions have been used by subnational authoritarian leaders to boost their political control, producing what I call “authoritarian participatory governance.” The best-known case in Mexico is the state of Oaxaca, whose government assigned participatory institutions to many of its 570 municipalities in 1995, before the transition to national democracy (2000). I show that these institutions were assigned by state autocrats to municipalities whose mayors could be trusted to work for the state-level regime (Democratization 2017), and that these mayors used these institutions to manage electoral participation and generate winning margins (Comparative Politics 2012; Journal of Politics in Latin America 2016). This allowed Oaxaca’s subnational authoritarian rulers to survive in power even national democratization. This research contributes to our understanding about how participatory institutions are used in non-democratic settings.