Robert McCleery
McCone Building M220B

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

Course Description

The course is designed to introduce students to the complex subject of Economic Development, its terms, tools, and theories, as well as the policies intended 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, cultural, and historical context. Development is envisioned as a process, rather than a goal, continuing and evolving through time and across levels of material well-being.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - 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.