What I do
Research interests: global financial governance architectures; political economy of international financial policy; multilateral financial institutions; central banks, currency boards, and exchange rate regimes; financial instability and crises; developmental finance; regional, subregional, and transregional financial architectures; macroeconomic policies for development; development banks; global financial safety net; Albert Hirschman Teaching interests: Int'l Monetary Relations; Finance and Economic Development
Financial Systems and Economic Development, International Financial Institutions and Financial Governance, Political Economy of International Financial Policy
Ilene Grabel is Distinguished University Professor and co-director of the MA program in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver (USA). She is presently serving as a standing member of the Intergovernmental Expert Group on Financing for Development at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Grabel has worked as a consultant to the International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNCTAD/G-24, UNCTAD’s Division of Globalization and Development Strategies, UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, and United Nations University/World Institute for Development Economics Research. Grabel has also been a consultant to Action Aid, to the coalition “New Rules for Global Finance,” was an Expert Advisor to the Third World Network project on capital controls and free trade agreements; is a member of the Task Force on Regulating Global Capital Flows for Long-Run Development (of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-range Future, Boston University), has been a member since 2013 of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of the European Parliament, and since 1987 has been a staff economist with the Center for Popular Economics. She served as a co-editor of the Review of International Political Economy from 2013-2017. Grabel has published widely on financial policy and crises, developmental financial architectures, international financial institutions, and global financial governance. Her research has been published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, World Development, Journal of Development Studies, Review of Social Economy, Journal of Post-Keynesian Economics, Feminist Economics, Development and Change, Current History, Review of International Political Economy, Economía Informa, International Review of Applied Economics, International Journal of Political Economy, Review of Radical Political Economics, Eastern Economics Journal, and the Journal of Economic Issues. Grabel’s 2004 book (Zed Books, with Ha-Joon Chang), Reclaiming Development, was reissued in 2014, and has been translated into Korean, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Tamil, Malayalam and Bahasa/Indonesian. Grabel’s latest book, When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence, was published by MIT Press (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/when-things-dont-fall-apart). The book has been awarded the 2018 British International Studies Association International Political Economy Book Prize and the 2019 International Studies Association International Political Economy Section Best Book Prize.
- Ph.D., Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1992
- MA, Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1990
- BA, Economics, Queens College, City University of New York, 1985
My recent research focuses on changes in global financial governance and developmental finance that have been induced by the global financial crisis. I recently published a book on this subject, When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence (MIT Press, 2017). The book won the 2018 British International Studies Association International Political Economy Book Prize and the 2019 International Studies Association International Political Economy Best Book Award. In the book I reject the conventional wisdom that holds that nothing of significance has changed for emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) as a consequence of the global crisis. Against the dominant (and incorrect) narrative I show that the global crisis has had significant, though ad hoc, inconsistent, experimental, and uneven effects on global financial governance and developmental finance. The resulting incoherence is, in my view, productive of development since it expands possibilities for policy and institutional experimentation, policy space for economic and human development, financial stability and resilience, and financial inclusion. I cement my case for what I term “productive incoherence” through case studies that explore the effects of the global crisis (and the earlier East Asian crisis) on informal financial governance networks (such as the G-20 and the Financial Stability Board); the power, governance, and practice of the IMF (with particular emphasis on the institution’s relationships with EMDEs); institutional innovations in liquidity (i.e., crisis) support and project/infrastructure finance on the national, sub-regional, regional, and transregional levels; and the “rebranding” of capital controls as a macroprudential policy instrument. I have examined many of these issues in earlier papers. The book deepens and broadens my analysis, while also reading them through a theoretical and epistemic framework inspired by the work of an intellectual hero of mine, Albert O. Hirschman.
Prior to completing the book, I conducted research on the origins and consequences of the Mexican and East Asian financial crises of the 1990s; policies to mitigate financial instability and reduce the spillover effects of financial crises in EMDEs; on the political economy of capital control policies and international private capital flows (particularly, portfolio investment and remittances); the effects of financial liberalization on macroeconomic and distributional outcomes and on political voice; pro-poor financial policies (with Gerald Epstein); and on the negative developmental effects of independent central banks and currency boards. In addition to this work, I co-authored with Ha-Joon Chang the book, Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual (Zed Books/Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, reissued 2014). In Reclaiming Development Chang and I challenge the damaging and incorrect “There is no alternative” narrative, and make a case for a range of policies that can promote economic development that is robust, equitable, and stable. See my CV for further details on my research. Also see my books and selected journal articles and book chapters for details on my work.
My research has also benefitted from the numerous opportunities I’ve had to engage with policy makers working in, with, and on behalf of EMDEs. I’ve worked, for example, as a consultant to the International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)/G-24, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies of UNCTAD, United Nations University/World Institute for Development Economics Research, UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, and lectured at policy-oriented events sponsored by UNCTAD, Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Central Banks of Argentina and Costa Rica, and the Technical Commission for the New International Financial Architecture of the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador. I have also been a member of the Task Force on Regulating Global Capital Flows for Long-Run Development (an initiative of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-range Future, Boston University) and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Progressive Economy (an initiative of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of the European Parliament, 2013-March 2018). Presently I am a member of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Expert Group on Financing for Development (September 2017-Present) and an academic partner of Progressive Society (an initiative of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of the European Parliament, March 2018-Present). I have participated in an Exit Workshop organized by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the International Monetary Fund (to provide feedback on the IEO’s draft report on “IMF Advice on Unconventional Monetary Policy).
I have also enjoyed the opportunity to support the work of those in NGO community seeking to make the world a better place. In this connection I have been a consultant to Action Aid, the coalition “New Rules for Global Finance,” and an Expert Advisor to the Third World Network project on capital controls and free trade agreements. I am also connected to several research institutes. For instance, I am a Research Partner at the Centro de Estudios Financieros y Económicos de América del Norte at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (2012-present and a Research Scholar at the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2007-present).
- Have Central Bankers Learned Their Lesson During the Last Financial Crisis
- How a Good Idea Got Its Groove Back: Central Banking, Capital Controls, and the Rediscovery of Keynes
- It’s a Mess, and That’s (Mostly) a Good Thing: Global Financial Governance in the Current Hirschmanian Conjuncture
- The Continuity Thesis, Discontinuity Antithesis, and Hirschmanian Synthesis: Global Crisis, Pluripolar Financial Governance, and ‘Productive Incoherence’
- Ten Years After the Financial Crisis: Is the World Safer for Stability and Development?
- Distinguished University Professor, 2019, University of Denver
- International Studies Association International Political Economy Section Best Book Award 2019.
- British International Studies Association International Political Economy Group Book Prize, 2018
- University Lecturer, 2011-12, University of Denver
- United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year, 2005-2006, University of Denver