POL 201 j curve LONG

POL 201 j curve LONG - The J-curve is a graph showing the...

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The J-curve is a graph showing the correlation between stability and openness of a government. While quantifying these qualities seems extremely abstract and arbitrary at first, the author’s case-by-case analysis provides insight into the structure of the curve as well as its applications to foreign relations and foreign business investment. Each country has their own unique J-curve, and the exact location of the curve on the graph and the country on the curve are subject to constant change. Figure 1: The J-Curve Certain factors can raise or lower a country’s entire curve. For example, a sharp rise in oil prices would raise Iran’s entire curve, as the increased prosperity makes the country, as well as its entire J-curve, more stable. Social unrest becomes less likely as standards of living increase. This same change in oil prices could simultaneously lower China’s J-curve, as its immense thirst for fossil fuels would become more costly. This would reduce the amount of money China has available for the rest of its economy. Reduction of the nation’s overall wealth can severely undermine the credibility of any 1
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government, thus pushing China’s entire J-curve lower. The far left side of the curve represents authoritarian regimes that prefer to close their societies to outside influence. The steep slope demonstrates an extremely tempting double-edged sword. It is much easier to quickly restore stability to a chaotic situation by setting up an authoritarian government. Having a single actor or small group of actors makes decision making much faster and more efficient than in a pluralistic society, meaning challenges to stability can be dealt with quickly and definitively. While the steep slope represents an extremely easy method of crisis management, the slide towards instability can happen just as quickly. Authoritarian governments are usually tied to a single figurehead or institution, often meaning the death of a leader also signifies the death of his or her government. Additionally, sustaining an effective closed economy in today’s world is virtually impossible, making the left side of the curve less stable than ever. The right side of the J-curve has a much more gradual slope. The author argues that creating a stable, open society can be extremely slow and treacherous. It is very easy for a fledgling democracy to fall apart and send the country back to the bottom of the curve or even slingshot it all the way back up the left side. If a country can successfully navigate the treacherous early going, its institutions gain legitimacy independent of the people within them. Economically, this means a transparent, market economy with allowances for foreign investment and free trade. Usually a WTO membership is a sign that a country has established economic legitimacy. Political institutions include a representative legislative body, entrenched bureaucracy, independent judiciary, and meaningful constitution. If these goals can be achieved, a nation likely has made a 2
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POL 201 j curve LONG - The J-curve is a graph showing the...

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