My Background

I was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1967. I grew up in relative poverty, in a very real sense a “welfare kid”. Today I’m a professor at an Ivy League university in the USA. Probabilistically speaking, I am as an extreme example of intragenerational social mobility as you can find anywhere.

My Academic Credentials

I received my PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1999 and taught at the Johns Hopkins University from 1997 until 2009. Since then, I have been Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of Political Science at Brown University and a Faculty Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

My Areas of Research

My research interests lie in the field of international political economy. More specifically, my research trespasses several fields and aims to be as interdisciplinary as possible, drawing from political science, economics, sociology, complexity theory, and evolutionary theory. My work falls into several related areas: the politics of ideas, how institutions change, political parties, and the politics of finance.

The politics of ideas focuses upon how agents deal with complexity and uncertainty in the design of institutions and the expression of their interests. Institutional change focuses upon evolutionary dynamics in complex systems, especially financial systems. I am interested in how, again, agents act within such systems given the non-linear dynamics that they generate. My work on political parties has focused upon how political parties self-insure against uncertainty via cartel structures. My work on finance focuses upon the politics of regulatory change, the role of macro-prudential regulation, the distributional costs of financial crises, and the power of financial ideas in politics.