On Monday, 19 March, 2018, Dr. Curran Flynn, Assistant Professor of International Relations, gave a talk on "The International Political Economy of Saudi Arabia: Sovereign Fund and Foreign Policy" Dr. Flynn's talk addressed the nature of the foreign policy aspect of Saudi Arabia's foreign investment through its sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund (PIF). He also noted that recently, the goals of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 have led to a massive restructuring of the goals and oversight of the PIF, therefore his talk explained the structure and investments of the PIF and how it relates to Vision 2030, focusing on the international investments and how these investments complement and support Saudi Arabia's foreign policy.
Dr. Flynn explained that by looking at the nature of these international investments it is possible to understand the political reasoning behind economic policy relating to the PIF and some of its external partnerships and investments. He stressed that the majority of PIF investment remains in the West with the bulk in the USA. However, Dr. Flynn believes there is room for investment growth both in Asia and the Middle East. He also stated that in terms of political economy it is assumed that all action is ultimately undertaken in order to enhance the standing, power and prestige of the state. Dr. Flynn stressed that each investment has a purpose and putting this into context with Saudi Arabia's foreign policy and its current economic situation allows these purposes to be illuminated. Therefore, while the economic aspect of the investment might appear self-explanatory, that is the investments will create positive returns on capital, the political aspect underpins the choices made to invest in particular countries and industries. Dr. Flynn argued, through an analysis of the PIF and its external investments and explains some of the international economic and political goals of Saudi Arabia in both the immediate and long-term.
This interesting presentation was attended by both faculty and students. Dr. Flynn's topical talk and insights prompted an interesting question and answer session.