Robert McCleery
McCone Building M112
(831) 647-4146

Robert K. McCleery was trained as an international and development economist, receiving his PhD from Stanford University in 1988. His world view and regional focus on the Asia Pacific stems from growing up, though college, in the ethnically and linguistically diverse Hawaiian Islands. His research and publications span a broad range of topics, from US-Mexico economic relations (migration and trade), Asian development, trade policy and economic integration in Asia and the Americas, and international political economy issues. His writing has appeared in several of the flagship economic journals, as well as journals with a regional focus on Asia and Latin America and outlets that cater to practitioners. Theory-based empirical research informs his teaching of trade and development topics, as he seeks to train a new generation of trade and development analysts and practitioners. 

He has held full-time positions at the East-West Center, Kobe University, and Claremont McKenna College before finding a home at MIIS. His work has taken him to more than 15 countries, building a network of personal and organizational contacts around the globe. His experience with these organizations allows him to teach what they do, how they approach problems, and how best to effectively present data and recommendations.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

MEETING DATES: February 24, 2020 - March 13, 2020

The course is designed to introduce students to the complex subject of Economic Development, its terms, tools, and theories, as well as the policies designed to stimulate it and the pitfalls waiting to trap the unwary policymaker. Its complexity derives from defining economic development as the intersection of economic, political, and social dimensions and their evolution over time, within a specific geographic and historical context. The course will address the technical, ideological and sociological implications of the “process of economic development” in both more and less developed economies around the world.

Fall 2018 - MIIS, Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

View in Course Catalog

Trade policy professionals and others interested in the impacts of trade policies on countries and industries need to understand the underlying motivations of the parties involved. To develop this understanding requires a firm grasp of the micro and macroeconomics of trade and trade policy as well as knowledge of laws and institutions. This course strengthens students' ability to conduct and interpret basic economic analysis at the national, industry, and firm level. The course is a mixture of practical analytical skills and a survey of current methodologies and research on the effects of trade policy on employment, incomes and select industrial and agricultural sectors.

Spring 2018 - MIIS, Spring 2019 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Trade theories and policies are studied, building from microeconomic principles and using a range of techniques, from rigorous economic modeling to simulations and role playing games. Topics include an analysis of the gains from free trade and the effects of barriers to trade such as tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and other instruments of commercial policy. Institutional frameworks for international trade – including regional trade agreements and the World Trade Organization – are also addressed.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

The link between globalization and development is crucial to understanding the positions of developing (and rich) countries towards trade policy, immigration, FDI, and technology transfer. Students will leave this class with an understanding of: the difference between economic growth and development, the short run and long run impacts of globalization on industrial structure, politics, government, and society, and the challenges faced by both large and small developing countries seeking an appropriate path in today’s globalized world. They will be able to assess the likely impact of policy change on a country’s economic growth rate, poverty levels, income distribution, social and political institutions, and culture, both in general and for a specific country case of their choice.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

This dynamic region has been leading global growth over the past few decades. Yet many challenges and obstacles remain. Some of these challenges remain despite rapid economic growth (malnutrition, poor educational quality in rural areas, poor sanitation and related health problems, government corruption, women's rights and gender inequality, etc.). Others can be viewed as “collateral damage” from rapid economic growth (air and water pollution, rising income and asset inequality, aging populations, loss of cultural traditions and knowledge, etc.). Still others involve local, national, or regional responses to global challenges, such as climate change. Some challenges are local, regional, or national, while others require international cooperation and coordination to effectively address. Major players (US, EU, Japan, China, and maybe other BRICS) impact others in the region with their policy initiatives and shifting priorities. These challenges will require innovative policy initiatives, and this class will give students experience in drafting such policies.

Students will identify and research a specific challenge. This challenge can and should have multiple dimensions (social, human security, legal, political, etc.) but MUST include an economic dimension. Relevant economic principles will be introduced in lecture and discussion format to facilitate their incorporation into student research. Historical cases such as the Asian Financial Crisis and the global recession will be discussed, but the focus of the class will be forward looking.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Jeffrey Sachs writes “The End of Poverty” and President Donald Trump want to renegotiate NAFTA. In a world of oversimplification and confusion about goals, impacts, and policies, we need to train a new generation of development and trade professionals that can set realistic goals, analyze data, understand complexity, and effectively present their findings. The crazier the world gets, the more important is calm analysis of complex problems, guided by facts and observations rather than preconceptions or ideology. These are the perspectives and skills I try to impart to my students, across classes that focus on trade, development, and their intersection.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Economics, Stanford University, 1988
  • BA, University of Hawaii

Professor McCleery has been teaching at the Institute since 1998.


  • “The Washington Consensus: A Post Mortem,” with Fernando DePaolis, in Asian Development, Miracles and Mirages: Essays in Honor of Seiji Naya, Sumner La Croix, ed., Summer 2006.
  • “NAFTA and the Broader Impacts of Trade Agreements on Industrial Development: When ‘Second-Order Effects’ Dominate,” in Empirical Methods in International Economics: Essays in Honor of Mordechai Kreinin, Edward Elgar (Michael Plummer, ed.) 2004, pp.216-228.
  • “Bangladesh: Searching for a Workable Development Path,” with Seiji Naya and Fernando DePaolis, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol.1 No.3, Dec. 2004, pp.1-20.  Japanese translation published in Development and Poverty in Asia: Women's Empowerment and Quality Of Life, Yukio Ikemoto and Noriatsu Matsui, eds., forthcoming April 2006.
  • “NAFTA as a Metaphor for the Globalization Debate,” with Raul Hinojosa Ojeda in NAFTA in the New Millennium, Peter Smith and Edward Chambers, eds., (University of Alberta Press, 2003).
  • Working with Economic Data in Trade Policy Advocacy, with Moyara Ruehsen and Geza Feketekuty, (Monterey: International Commercial Diplomacy Project, 2001). Revised, with the assistance of Fernando DePaolis, October 2002.
  • Human Resource Development and Sustainable Growth,” Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies Vol. 37, No. 1&2, 2000, pp. 27-51.