This seminar aims to provide students with a solid grounding in the legal and policy issues arising from the operation of the international financial system. It will be of special interest to students interested in public international law, financial regulation, and political economy of law. The substantive focus is on the role of relevant international institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund. The seminar will likely begin with sessions on the history, economics, and politics of the international financial system, examining concepts such as money, the balance of payments, rules and discretion, soft law, and sovereignty. It then turns to the evolution of the IMF and its Articles of Agreement, its regulation of the current and capital accounts of national economies, and the IMF’s relationship to other institutions, such as national governments/ central banks and private banks/ hedge funds.
The seminar content will probably evolve in an effort to capture current developments in the relationship between states, international institutions, and financial markets. In previous years, for instance, we examined sovereign debt, offshoring and tax havens, government responses to the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the causes and evolving risks of financial instability, and the unfolding power relations among states and between states and private actors. Significant time is allocated in the seminar for critiques and for discussion of possible reforms. Students are afforded opportunities to develop their analytical, presentation, and research/ writing skills, in particular.
Given the current instability of the international financial system, this year students may be offered a dedicated research topic on which to write and report back to the class with a view to developing our collective understanding of current issues and of the perspectives and strategies of different institutions and key actors.