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An Economic Theory of Foreign Interventions and Regime Change

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  • Roberto Bonfatti

Abstract

I construct a theory of foreign interventions in which the political preferences of the foreign country are determined by its different economic ties with alternative local groups. Stronger economic ties make a group more influenceable from the outside, and thus more willing to grant economic and geopolitical concessions to the foreign country. In the model, foreign interventions in favor of the most influenceable group are counterweighted by a natural tendency of the home country's political system to bring to power the least influenceable group. While the foreign country can use its economic power to influence the geopolitical alignment of the home country, the outcome of this endeavor may be compromised by regime change. In particular, when concessions to the foreign country cannot be renegotiated efficiently (possibly because of reputational concerns in the foreign country), regime change may lead to a loss of geopolitical alignment, even if all groups are ex-ante identical in terms of their geopolitical preferences. These results may help interpret the pattern of Western interventions in the 20th century, as well as the role of economic nationalism in the political economy of regime change. In particular, they may help understand the role of the Cold War in strengthening the West's preference for the status quo in many countries. I provide historical evidence in favor of my arguments.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Bonfatti, 2011. "An Economic Theory of Foreign Interventions and Regime Change," Economics Series Working Papers 549, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:549
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper549.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Masahiro Endoh, 2012. "Cross-border political donations and Pareto-efficient tariffs," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 493-512, July.
    3. Ticchi, Davide & Vindigni, Andrea, 2007. "War and Endogenous Democracy," Papers 03-10-2008b, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
    4. William Easterly & Shanker Satyanath & Daniel Berger, 2008. "Superpower Interventions and their Consequences for Democracy: An Empirical Inquiry," NBER Working Papers 13992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Arindrajit Dube & Ethan Kaplan & Suresh Naidu, 2011. "Coups, Corporations, and Classified Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1375-1409.
    6. Daniel Berger & William Easterly & Nathan Nunn & Shanker Satyanath, 2013. "Commercial Imperialism? Political Influence and Trade during the Cold War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 863-896, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aidt, Toke & Albornoz, Facundo & Gassebner, Martin, 2010. "The Golden Halo and Political Transitions," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 48, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    2. Garcia-Alonso, Maria D.C. & Levine, Paul & Smith, Ron, 2016. "Military aid, direct intervention and counterterrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 112-135.
    3. Toke Aidt & Uk Hwang, 2014. "To Ban or Not to Ban: Foreign Lobbying and Cross National Externalities," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1402, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Regime change; Foreign interventions; Economic power; Economic nationalism; Cold War; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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