Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

National Economies in an Interdepend World. The Seminal Contribution of Richard N. Cooper

Magliulo Antonio, University of Florence

Despite List’s accusation of cosmopolitanism, classical economists and their successors have always and primarily studied the working of national economies. It is not by chance that Smith titled his masterpiece The Wealth of Nations and that the same international trade theory was conceived to analyse the impact of the flows of goods, capital and workers on national well-being. A challenge to the traditional economic approach was launched during the 1970s by the founders of International Political Economy (IPE). Their goal was to integrate the traditional approach in order to explain the nature of the mismatch or clash between the growing international economy space and the persistent international polity space fragmented in nation-states. To this end, they developed a new approach based on a combination of history, economics and policy used to explain international relations. The aim of this work is to show how the political economy approach was also able to offer new insights to the study of national economies in an interdependent world. In particular, we will focus on the seminal contribution of Richard N. Cooper, the author of The Economics of Interdependence, who wrote in 1968: “The central problem of international economic cooperation – and of this book – is how to keep the manifold benefits of extensive of extensive international economic intercourse free of crippling restrictions while at the same time preserving a maximum degree of freedom for each nation to pursue its legitimate economic objectives.” The work is divided in three parts: we first try to establish the-state-of-the art on the topic around 1968; then we outline the seminal contribution of Cooper and lastly we trace his influence on the mature reflection of Robert Gilpin, one of the leading scholars of IPE.


Keywords: International Political Economy, National Economies, Richard N. Cooper