International political economy of money and finance


Benjamin Braun

I developed this course for the public policy MA students at the Hertie School of Governance; this is the third iteration of the syllabus, revised and updated in 2022 and 2023. The full syllabus is available here.

Course summary

The global economy has been transformed by a decades-long process of financialization. Any attempt to address the great societal challenges of our time has to grapple with the realities of the global monetary and financial order. Drawing on history, economics, sociology, and political science, this course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the political economy of money and finance. Concentrating on the period since the 1970s, the course teaches an understanding of financialization as a process that unfolds over time. Through a balance sheet lens, the course focuses on the key actors within the global monetary and financial system—such as institutional capital pools—and their relationships with governments and the non-financial sector. It also covers the role of public financial actors such as central banks and the International Monetary Fund. Understanding, processing, and visualizing financial data are integral to the course.

Students learn to

  1. understand the global monetary and financial system as a set of interlocking, hierarchically organized balance sheets;

  2. use R to obtain, process, and visualize financial data;

  3. identify the distributional consequences of the existing order;

  4. understand why policy space is reduced for many countries, and what governments can do to increase it;

  5. how to think about alternative institutional arrangements.