Empirical Essays on Secrecy and Security in the United States

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Empirical Essays on Secrecy and Security in the United States

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Title: Empirical Essays on Secrecy and Security in the United States
Author: Gill, Michael Zachary
Citation: Gill, Michael Zachary. 2016. Empirical Essays on Secrecy and Security in the United States. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This dissertation analyzes longstanding issues in U.S. foreign policy and political economy with novel data and research methods. Chapter 1 asks: to what extent do “surprise” shifts in the international security environment help individual firms in the defense economy? This paper exploits the timing of three major events—the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the announcement of the Iraq troop surge, and the death of Osama Bin Laden—to assess how firms financially respond to shocks in the demand for defense. Utilizing financial market data for a set of “exposed” defense firms, event studies are performed via the estimation of Bayesian structural time series models. Results of the analysis demonstrate there is considerable heterogeneity in firm response to major events—and the estimation strategy notably outperforms competing estimators, such as the popular synthetic control method.

Chapter 2 (co-authored with Arthur Spirling) studies the role of information dissem- ination and communication at the U.S. Department of State from a unique empirical perspective. We analyze over 163,958 United States diplomatic cables to speak to several aspects of contemporary international relations theory. We show that diplomatic secrecy consists of at least two distinct “dimensions”: substantive and procedural. The former deals with secrets per se relating to specific political issue areas that would actively dam- age U.S. interests, especially in terms of revealing the resolve or capabilities. Procedural secrecy deals with the diplomatic norm of confidentiality in meetings, regardless of the substantive content of any single cable. We relate these two dimensions of diplomacy to concepts of secrecy in the theoretical literature, and demonstrate that both play an important role in the bureaucratic behavior of the U.S. Foreign Service.

Chapter 3 (co-authored with Michael Egesdal and Martin Rotemberg) analyzes how the behavior of the Federal Open Market Committee changed after the statutory enforcement of transparency laws in 1993; to do so, we present new techniques to describe how language use changes over time. For a family of widely used vector space metrics, we demonstrate how to decompose aggregate changes into each individual dimension’s contribution—such as a particular word or document’s influence. The approach can be generalized to account for associations between document dimensions (such as word definitions or meanings). Using various documents released by the Federal Reserve from 1976 to 2007, covering both years in which the FOMC knew its deliberations would eventually be made public, and years in which it believed no records were kept, we find that FOMC deliberations became more similar to the always-public press releases in the transparency regime.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33840749
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